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Changing Pedagogy, Xin-Min Zheng and Chris Davison

Developing Materials for Language Teaching, Brian Tomlinson
English Language Learning Materials, Edited by Brian Tomlinson
Research for Materials Development in Language Learning, Edited by Brian
Tomlinson and Hitomi Masuhara
Teaching Materials and the
Roles of EFL/ESL Teachers
Practice and Theory

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First published 2013

Ian McGrath, 2013

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To Natasha, as always, and the new generation.


1 Introduction: Materials, the roles of teachers and learners, teacher education

PART ONE External perspectives: Theory
2 Publisher and coursebook writer perspectives
3 The professional literature
4 Teacher educator perspectives

PART TWO Teacher and learner perspectives: Practice

5 How teachers evaluate coursebooks
6 How teachers adapt and supplement coursebooks
7 Learner perspectives
8 Contextual influences and individual factors

PART THREE Implications

9 Implications for teachers, managers, ministries, publishers and coursebook
writers, and research
10 Implications for teacher educators: A practice-based proposal
Author Index
Subject Index

My thanks are due to a number of people who responded to requests for help
during the writing of this book or provided other kinds of support. They are:
Lubna Alsagoff, Rod Bolitho, Cheng Xiaotang and Chen Zehang, Tamas Kiss, Bo
Lundahl, Nick Sampson, Phil Quirke, Margaret Sands, and Saad Shawer.
I am also grateful to those of my former students who agreed to be interviewed
or gave their consent for their work to be quoted; some are named in the text,
while others preferred to be anonymous. My thanks to Afidah Bte Ali, Ramasamy
Anusuya, Dhilshaadh Balajee, Jack Hsiao, Sandra Kanj, Tomo Matsumara,
Rayhan M. Rashad, Rong Rong, Asmoraniye Shaffie, Kitty Yuen and Zheng
Yiying and to the many others who have helped to shape this book through the
insights they provided into their working contexts and needs.

1. Teachers, learners, contexts

The teachers referred to in the title of this book have one thing in common: all
teach English to learners who are not speakers of English as a first language.
These learners may be children, teenagers or adults, in countries where English is
spoken as a first, second or foreign language, and studying English for a specific
purpose or for no particular reason. The teachers, who may or may not be native
speakers of English, have different levels of education, training and experience,
and vary in their personal characteristics. The contexts in which they teach will
also be very different, not only as regards the resources available or class size but
also in terms of institutional expectations and the status accorded to teachers
(reflected in, for example, workload, pay, and autonomy). So, apart from the fact
that they are all teaching English, do these teachers have anything else in
common? Well, yes: they all use materials.

2. The value of materials

The importance of materials in language teaching and learning is widely
recognized. As Richards (2001a) notes:

Teaching materials are a key component in most language programs. Whether

the teacher uses a textbook, institutionally-prepared materials, or his or her own
materials, instructional materials generally serve as the basis for much of the
language input learners receive and the language practice that occurs in the
classroom. In the case of inexperienced teachers, materials may also serve as a
form of teacher training they provide ideas on how to plan and teach lessons.
(Richards, 2001a: 251)

Other writers have pointed to particular functions fulfilled by textbooks. For

instance, where learning objectives have already been specified in the form of a
syllabus, a textbook can put flesh on the bones of that syllabus (Nunan, 1991:
208), and suggest the intensity of coverage for syllabus items, allocating the
amount of time, attention and detail particular syllabus items or tasks require
(Richards & Rodgers, 1986: 25); more generally, textbooks support learning,
stimulate interest, and are a source of information about the language
(Cunningsworth, 1995; Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998). In short, they support the
teacher, complement the teacher and support the learner. It is therefore hardly
surprising that the most commonly found elements in second and foreign
language classrooms around the world are teachers, learners and textbooks
(Richards, 1998a: 125). Yet, as Richards points out in the same paper, while the
roles of teachers, teaching and learners have been the focus of a vast body of
discussion and research over the years, much less attention has been given to
textbooks (ibid.). The implication is clear: since textbooks, and materials more
generally, are such a key component of language classrooms, their
appropriateness and usefulness require our critical attention.

3. Materials as an object of study and research

Richards was right in his contention that, relatively speaking and at the time he
was writing, research had focused more on teachers, teaching and learners than on
textbooks. However, we cannot infer from this that materials had received very
little attention in the professional literature. In one area of English language
teaching in particular (English for Specific Purposes ESP), there had been
concerted activity around course and materials design since the 1960s,
particularly relating to English for science and technology (EST). This activity
was to be reflected in such major publications in the 1970s as Allen and
Widdowsons English in Focus series, Bates and Dudley-Evans Nucleus series
and the 4-volume Reading and Thinking in English coordinated by Moore, and in
collections of academic papers such as Perren (1969, 1971, 1974); British Council
(1975, 1978); Richards (1976); Holden (1977); Mackay and Mountford (1978);
and Todd Trimble, Trimble and Drobnic (1978). In the United Kingdom, in 1972,
lecturers responsible for pre-sessional courses for overseas students set up an
organization initially known as Special English Language Materials for Overseas
University Students (SELMOUS) specifically to share materials (see, for
example, Cowie & Heaton, 1977; Johnson, 1977), and material development has
remained a focus for ESP and its various sub-branches such as English for
Academic Purposes (EAP) see, for example, Alexander (2007). Robinson
(1980) contains a very helpful review and detailed bibliography of early
Interest in materials was not confined to ESP. By 1998, when Richardss paper
was published, several more general book-length publications dealing with
materials had appeared (Madsen & Bowen, 1978; British Council, 1980;
Cunningsworth, 1984; Grant, 1987; Sheldon, 1987; McDonough & Shaw, 1993;
Byrd, 1995a; Cunningsworth, 1995; Hidalgo, Hall & Jacobs, 1995); and this
steady stream has continued (see, for example, Tomlinson, 1998a; Fenner &
Newby, 2000; McGrath, 2002; Renandya, 2003; Tomlinson, 2003a; Mishan,
2005; Tomlinson, 2008a; Harwood, 2010a; Mishan & Chambers, 2010;
Tomlinson & Masuhara, 2010a). A second edition of Tomlinson (1998) was
published in 2011; a third edition of McDonough and Shaw, with Masuhara as
third author, was scheduled to appear in 2012, and a second edition of McGrath in
2013.On a broader front, this recognition of the importance of materials has also
been reflected in conferences devoted to this topic, and the setting up of the
British-based Materials Development Association (MATSDA) and the Materials
Writers Special Interest Section within TESOL, the American-based international
association of teachers of English to speakers of other languages. Outside the
world of English language teaching, the International Association for Research on
Textbooks and Educational Media (IARTEM) was founded in 1991; it holds
biannual conferences and publishes conference reports (see www.iartem.no/) and
an e-journal (see http://biriwa.com/iartem/ejournal/).

4. The focus of this book

It appears to be the case, then, that materials have for some time been receiving
the kind of serious attention that Richards called for. However, it has been argued
that materials development is still seen in applied linguistics circles as an
essentially atheoretical activity, and thus unrewarding as an area of research
(Samuda, 2005: 232), and that such research as has been carried out has been too
narrowly focused (Tomlinson & Masuhara, 2010b). A focus on the textbook, for
example, to the exclusion of the teacher and learners fails to take account of their
interconnected dynamic relationship. The better materials are, the more helpful
they will potentially be; but since they are merely designed to be aids to teaching
and learning their effectiveness will depend on how appropriate they are for a
particular context (which depends partly on selection processes) and how they are
perceived and used by teachers and learners. Graves (2000) compares a textbook
to a piano:

The piano . . . cannot produce music on its own. The music is produced only
when you play it. Playing well requires practice and familiarity with the piece.
The more skilled you are, the more beautiful the music. . . . Clearly the quality
of the instrument also affects the quality of the music. However, if it is in tune,
even the most humble piano can produce beautiful music in the hands of a
skilled musician. The musical analogy falls short because it involves only one
performer, while success in teaching with a textbook depends also on the
students who use it. (Graves, 2000: 1756)
Efforts to improve materials are important, but an increased emphasis on research
into the selection, use and, indeed, the effects of materials is also necessary
(Hutchinson & Torres, 1994; McGrath, 2002; Tomlinson & Masuhara, 2010c). As
Littlejohn (2011: 181) points out: Analysing materials . . . is quite a different
matter from analysing materials-in-action . This book reviews the most widely
available studies on teachers evaluation and use of materials, but more are
There are, of course, others outside the classroom who potentially have some
influence on the nature of the materials that are used and how they are used by an
individual teacher. Among them are those in positions of authority within an
institution (institutional managers), who may select materials and coordinate
teaching and testing based on them; fellow teachers, who may offer advice and
ideas or alternatively discourage experimentation; and beyond them, a Ministry of
Education, which develops curricula, syllabuses and national examinations, and
perhaps publishes or approves textbooks. Where a textbook is the main teaching-
learning aid, publishers and textbook writers play an obvious role, since the
textbook . . . influences what teachers teach and what and to some extent how
learners learn (McGrath, 2002: 12). One might expect that teacher educators will
also give guidance in materials selection and use.
Ultimately, the book is about this web of relationships. It draws on the
published literature to describe the influences at work in the production of
commercial materials such as textbooks, and synthesises what is known about
English language teachers relationships with materials and learners, and the
effects of both institutional context and the wider educational context. It also
presents what I hope is a compelling argument for the role of teacher education in
helping teachers to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to select, adapt,
and design materials that will make learning more effective and more enjoyable.

5. Aims and target audience

Some years ago, the well-known author and teacher educator, Alan Maley, was
asked in an interview what changes he would like to see in the ELT field. He

Id like to see a re-equilibration of the power relationship between the

academic research/theorizing community (which has most of the power and
prestige) and the classroom teaching community (where most of the work gets
done). What academics do is fine and perfectly valid in their community. But
most of it is mistakenly taken to be relevant for a completely different
community, with different needs, goals and aspirations. (Maley, 2001)
Maley puts forward a number of propositions here, not all of which would be
accepted by those involved:

The research/theorizing community (i.e. university academics) has both

more power and more prestige than the classroom teaching community
(presumably school teachers, though there are many classroom language
teachers in universities who would agree with this).
The classroom teaching community does most of the work.

This community deserves a higher status.

Differences in what academics and school teachers are expected to do and

the contexts in which they work mean that the ideas that emerge from
universities are often not relevant for those working in schools.
These ideas are, however, assumed to be relevant.

This is not exactly an attack on academics in ivory towers. Maley has himself
occupied academic positions in universities and is careful to state that what
academics do is fine and perfectly valid in their community. Rather, it is a
warning that theories developed in one context may not be applicable in another,
and an implied assertion that the practices of school teachers have their own
validity and deserve credit.
One of the purposes of this book is to present the work of these communities
side by side so that the nature of the gap can be seen, and the work needed to
bridge that gap appreciated. However, because its focus is on teaching-learning
materials, two other communities also feature: those who produce commercial
materials (publishers and textbook writers) and those who might be expected to
train teachers in the evaluation, use and development of materials (teacher
educators). The intention is that each of these groups and other groups with a
vested interest, such as syllabus writers, institutional managers and educational
administrators should also benefit from a better understanding of the work of
the others.
The principal aims of the book are as follows:

To raise awareness among Ministries of Education and other language

teacher education providers of the necessity and, I would argue,
centrality of a materials evaluation and design component in language
teacher education programmes, both pre-service and in-service (including
postgraduate programmes in TESOL/TESL/ELT/Applied Linguistics).
To raise awareness of classroom realities and teacher needs among teacher
educators responsible for the planning and teaching of such programmes,
and encourage discussion concerning objectives, content and method.
To raise awareness among publishers and coursebook writers of what
teachers need and expect.
To raise awareness among institutional managers of the kinds of support
that teachers need if they are to fulfil their responsibilities and continue to
develop as professionals.
To stimulate reflection and informed action in teachers themselves.
To stimulate further research to strengthen the knowledge base of teacher
education by identifying examples of effective practice among both
classroom teachers and teacher educators.

6. Structure of the book

Following an introductory chapter (Chapter One) which introduces the major
themes (materials, roles of teacher and learners, teacher education), the book
consists of three parts. Part One contains three chapters which present views on
materials and their use by teachers from perspectives which are external to the
classroom. These chapters deal with the perspectives of, in turn, publishers and
textbook writers (Chapter Two); the professional community, defined as those
who write about materials and their use, and therefore a more inclusive term than
Maleys academic community (Chapter Three); and teacher educators,
specifically those who have written about teacher education in materials
evaluation and design (Chapter Four). Taken together, these chapters represent
the theory of the title of this book that is, the expectations that groups external
to the classroom have of teachers and the roles they will play in their interactions
with materials and learners. Part Two then considers how far these expected roles
appear to be reflected in the practices of teachers in relation to materials
evaluation (Chapter Five) and materials adaptation (Chapter Six), and the value
that teachers, in turn, attach to learner involvement in evaluating or supplying
materials (Chapter Seven). What emerges from these chapters is that there are
some gaps between teacher practice and the theory discussed in earlier chapters.
The final chapter in Part Two, Chapter Eight, offers explanations for these gaps.
Part Three consists of just two chapters, both concerned with implications.
Chapter Nine presents implications for teachers themselves; for the other groups
that have an impact on teacher practice publishers and textbook writers,
institutional managers and Ministries of Education; and for research. Chapter Ten
outlines a practical proposal for teacher education in materials evaluation and
7. A personal note
At the time of writing, I am based at the National Institute of Education in
Singapore, where I teach courses on materials as part of in-service BEd and MEd
programmes. Previously, I have run workshops and courses on materials
evaluation and design for English language teachers in Europe, the Middle East,
the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, South America and for many years in
the United Kingdom, at the universities of Edinburgh and Nottingham. Contexts
may vary, but participants tend to have three things in common: they think
materials are important (and are often critical of those they are expected to use);
they are interested in developing their ability to select materials and/or develop
their own; and they have had little or no practical training in materials evaluation
or design.
As a teacher educator, I could not be more delighted. Motivation to learn and a
similar starting point what more could I ask? Seen from a wider, more objective
standpoint, however, teachers lack of training is a source of great concern. If the
majority of teachers have never received any systematic training relating to
materials, I asked myself, what are the effects on the ways in which they select
and use materials? And what can be done to improve the situation? These were
the initial questions which stimulated me to write this book. However, in the
course of my research, as often happens, other intriguing questions emerged,
among them: why do teachers not do what they are expected to? None of these
questions lends itself to a simple answer, and because the literature which links
teachers, materials and teacher education is so limited and materials, contexts and
individual teachers so varied, the answers that I have provided are inevitably
partial and, to some extent, personal. I hope that the answers that I have provided
are nevertheless useful and, perhaps more important, that the questions will spur
on others to formulate questions and publish answers that are meaningful for their
own contexts.
1 December


Materials, the roles of teachers and learners, and

teacher education

. . . far too many institutions seem to view materials and equipment as

being more important than students and/or teachers. . . . We are, after all,
teaching students not materials.
(Edwards, 2010: 73)
As teacher preparation increases, the importance of the textbook diminishes.
(McElroy, 1934: 5)

1. Introduction
The Preface highlighted the importance of materials in language teaching and the
need to gain a better understanding of how teachers select and use materials. It
also hinted at a key role for teacher education. The three sections of this chapter
reintroduce each of these themes. Section 2 takes a closer look at what we mean
by materials, the arguments for textbooks and criticisms of textbooks; Section 3
examines teachers roles in relation to materials and learners; and Section 4 deals
with teacher education.

2. Materials

2.1 What do we mean by materials?

If you ask 100 English language teachers who are teaching learners of different
ages, with different needs and in different contexts what materials they use in
their teaching their individual answers will vary considerably. Some lists may
contain only one item; others will be much more extensive. Certain items will
appear in most lists; others may be much less frequent. The master list, containing
all the items from the individual lists, will almost certainly include:

A textbook, produced by a commercial publisher (i.e. for profit), a Ministry

of Education or a large institution (e.g. university language centre, private
language school chain); this will normally be accompanied by some
combination of the following: teachers notes, a student workbook, tests,
visual aids (e.g. wallcharts, flashcards), a reader, audio and video material /
computer-based (CALL) exercise material / Smartboard software / web-
based materials.
Commercial materials that are not provided as part of the textbook package:
for example, reference material (dictionaries, grammar books, irregular verb
charts) and practice material (supplementary skills books, readers).
Teacher-prepared materials, selected by or devised by the teacher or a group
of teachers working together:
authentic print materials (e.g. newspaper and magazine articles, literary
extracts, advertisements, menus, diagrams and other print materials
downloaded from the internet which were not designed for language
authentic recordings (e.g. songs, off-air recordings, recordings of
academic lectures; Internet sources such as YouTube)
worksheets, quizzes and tests downloaded from the internet or
photocopied from other sources
teacher-developed materials (e.g. oral or written activities developed to
accompany authentic or textbook materials, self-standing tasks and
exercises, tests, overhead projector transparencies, PowerPoint
presentations, CALL materials)
games (board games, Bingo, etc.)
realia (real objects, including classroom items) and representations
(photos, drawings, including drawing on the board).
Some teachers will also enlist the aid of learners to supply or create materials.
Indeed, we might broaden the notion of materials to include all use of the target
language by learners and the teacher in that this is a potential input to learning,
especially when it is captured by a recording or takes a written form. If we stretch
the notion of materials still further, we might also add any other visual or auditory
means (e.g. facial expression, gesture, mime, demonstration, sounds) used by the
teacher or learners to convey meaning or stimulate language use. Tomlinson
(2001) takes this kind of broad view of materials, defining them as anything
which can be used to facilitate the learning of a language. They can be linguistic,
visual, auditory or kinaesthetic, and they can be presented in print, through live
performance or display, or on cassette, CD-ROM, DVD or the internet (p.66).

2.2 Some distinctions

The list above has been organized in such a way that certain distinctions are
immediately apparent: between, for example, textbook packages, other
(supplementary) commercial materials and materials prepared by teachers
themselves; between reference material and practice material; and between
various types of teacher-prepared materials. McGrath (2002: 7), writing
specifically about text materials, differentiates between four categories of

those that have been specifically designed for language learning and teaching
(e.g. textbooks, worksheets, computer software); authentic materials (e.g. off-
air recordings, newspaper articles) that have been specially selected and
exploited for teaching purposes by the classroom teacher; teacher-written
materials; and learner-generated materials.

We might also wish to distinguish on the basis of where materials were produced
(global vs local textbooks), their intended audience (General English
sometimes dubbed Teaching English for No Obvious Reason (TENOR) or
English for Specific Purposes (ESP)) or their linguistic focus (on a language
system such as grammar or phonology, or a language skill such as listening or
However, there are other distinctions which are perhaps more important
because they concern the roles that materials play: that between non-verbal and
verbal materials, for instance, that between materials-as-content and materials-as-
language, and the four-way distinction made by Tomlinson (2001) between
materials which are instructional in that they inform learners about the language,
. . . experiential in that they provide exposure to the language in use, . . .
elicitative in that they stimulate language use, or . . . exploratory in that they
facilitate discoveries about language use (p.66, emphases added).
Non-verbal materials such as representations can help to establish direct
associations between words and objects and clarify meanings; they can also be
used to stimulate learners to produce language, spoken and written. However, for
language learning purposes they are much more limited than verbal (or text)
materials: spoken language in the form of classroom talk or recordings, materials
containing written language and multimedia materials (literally, anything
combining more than one medium). The form in which ideas are expressed in
these materials may serve as examples of language use and, indeed, of discourse
structure; this language also carries content, ideas to which learners may react and
from which they may learn.
The importance of materials-as-content should not be underestimated. One of
the beliefs which links the communicative approach to methods of a century and
more earlier, such as the Direct Method, is that learning to speak a language is a
natural capacity which is stimulated by three conditions: someone to talk to,
something to talk about, and a desire to understand and make yourself
understood (Howatt, 2004: 210, emphasis added). In language classrooms, that
something to talk about may be a subject selected by the teacher or initiated by a
learner, including some aspect of the language itself, or it may be a topic, text or
task in the materials. In language learning terms, what matters is that it should
trigger in learners the desire to understand and make themselves understood.
The implication is clear: the more engaging the content, the more likely it is to
stimulate communicative interaction. Learning thus takes place through exposure
and use or in Tomlinsons (2001) terms through experiencing the language or
responding to elicitation. Content selected for its relevance to learners academic
or occupational needs can, of course, also fulfil broader learning purposes, and
content and language integrated learning (CLIL) has aroused much interest in
recent years.
In reference materials such as dictionaries and grammar books, language is the
content; and explicit information about the language, plus exercises, also forms
the bulk of student workbooks and some textbooks. Tomlinson refers to this as
the instructional role of materials. Helpful though this approach to the language
may be for analytically inclined learners, it needs to be complemented by text-
level examples of language in use. These texts, spoken and written, together with
all instructions and examples, must illustrate language which is accurate, up-to-
date and natural. They can then serve both as language samples in which rules of
use can be discovered by learners Tomlinsons exploratory role for
materials and as a model for learners own production. We might describe this
way of looking at materials as a materials-as-language (rather than materials-as-
content) perspective.

2.3 Coursebooks and their advantages

As far as language learning is concerned, then, the importance of materials-as-

content lies primarily in their value as a stimulus for communicative interaction,
and of materials-as-language as the provision of information about the target
language and carefully selected examples of use. The modern textbook, now
normally referred to as a coursebook because it tends to be used as the
foundation for a course, is designed to combine these functions.
It is easy to understand why coursebooks are so popular. Their advantages
include the following:

1 They reduce the time needed for lesson preparation. Teachers who are
teaching full-time find coursebooks invaluable because they do not have
enough time to create original lessons for every class.
2 They provide a visible, coherent programme of work. Teachers may
lack the time and expertise to design a coherent programme of work. The
coursebook writer not only selects and organizes language content but also
provides the means by which this can be taught and learned: the most
fundamental task for the professional writer is bringing together coherently
the theory, practice, activities, explanations, text, visuals, content, formats,
and all other elements that contribute to the finished product (Byrd, 1995b:
8). Coursebooks are also reassuring for the parents of younger learners who
are keen to know what their children are doing and to offer their help if it is
3 They provide support. For teachers who are untrained or inexperienced,
textbooks (and the Teachers Books that normally accompany them) provide
methodological support. Those who lack confidence in their own language
proficiency can draw on linguistically accurate input and examples of
language use (Richards, 2001b). At times of curriculum change,
coursebooks offer concrete support for the inexperienced and experienced
alike (Hutchinson & Torres, 1994).
4 They are a convenient resource for learners. The visible coherence or
sense of purpose and direction referred to above is also helpful for
learners. Because coursebooks enable a learner to preview or review what is
done in class, they can promote feelings of both progress and security
(Harmer, 2001: 7). In short, they provide a framework for learning as well
as for teaching A learner without a coursebook is more teacher-
dependent (Ur, 1996: 184). Compared to handouts, coursebooks are also
more convenient.
5 They make standardized instruction possible. If learners do the same
things, at more or less the same rate, and are tested on the same material
(Richards, 2001b), it is easy to keep track of what is done and compare
performance across classes. From this perspective, coursebooks are thus a
convenient administrative tool.
6 They are visually appealing, cultural artefacts. The attraction for
learners of the modern global coursebook lies in no small part in its visual
appeal the use of colour, photographs, cartoons, magazine-style formats.
Cultural information is conveyed by these means as well as through the
words on the page (Harmer, 2001).
7 Coursebook packages contain a wealth of extra material (Harmer,
2001: 7). Beyond the student book, the modern coursebook package makes
available a range of additional resources for both classroom use and self-
access purposes.

This last point is graphically illustrated in McGraths (2007) analysis of eight

global coursebook packages (see Table 1.1). The materials surveyed were as

As McGrath (2007: 3478) notes, one feature of such packages is that they
provide integrated resources for teachers. For example, Teachers Books (or
resource packs) may now contain photocopiable activities, supplementary
materials offering extra support/challenge for mixed groups and warm-up
activities (New English File), and further resources for teachers include:

Teachers Video Guide (Inside Out contains guidance and worksheets)

customizable texts (face2face)

Table 1.1 Content of coursebook packages

customizable tests on CD (Inside Out)

publishers websites linked to specific courses (Oxford sites include articles,

downloadable worksheets and activities, and discussion groups)
publishers websites available to any teachers (e.g. Macmillans
Additional materials for learners are also provided for example:

a CD-ROM to accompany the students book (face2face) or workbook (that

for New English File includes video extracts and activities, interactive
grammar quizzes, vocabulary banks, pronunciation charts and listen and
practise audio material; the workbook for Inside Out comes with either an
audio cassette or an audio CD)
publishers websites for students linked to specific courses (e.g. New
English File)
publishers websites available to any learner.

Linked resources which can be used in combination with specific courses are also
available. These include specially designed supplementary materials and stand-
alone resources. Examples include:
business Resource Books (New English File)

pronunciation course; interactive practice material on CD-ROM (Headway)

bilingual (Dutch/French/German) Companions containing listing of
words/phrases with pronunciation, translation and contextualization (Inside
Such developments are impressive: 25 years ago, who would have dreamed of
website resources linked to courses or freely available general website resources
for teachers and learners? And more is being offered almost daily. For instance,
whiteboard software is available to accompany the two Cambridge titles, and
learners can register for free e-lessons with Macmillan (McGrath, 2007: 348). At
the time of writing, e-books and e-readers have begun to have an impact on ELT
publishing. Macmillans Dynamic-Books software will reportedly allow teachers
to edit e-book editions of Macmillan coursebooks in order to tailor them to the
needs of their students (Salusbury, 2010). In a few years time, other innovations
will no doubt have been introduced.

2.4 Doubting voices

Given these potential benefits, it is hardly surprising that, despite occasional

warnings of the demise of printed coursebooks in the face of technological
development, coursebooks continue to be published and, particularly in contexts
where English is taught as a foreign language by non-native English speaking
teachers (NNESTs), whether we like it or not, represent for both students and
teachers the visible heart of any ELT programme (Sheldon, 1988: 237). Yet
Sheldons interpolated whether we like it or not is telling. Despite their obvious
appeal, coursebooks have attracted a number of criticisms, most of which are
aptly captured by Rinvolucris (2001) phrase a human, cultural and linguistic
disaster (cited in Harmer 2001: 5).
Coursebooks do not cater for the whole person; nor do they do take adequate
account of differences in learning preferences. Underlying the humanistic
approaches of the 1960s was the belief that, to be effective, teaching must engage
the learner on an affective level as well as a cognitive level, and the same belief
underpins one line of criticism of coursebooks. Tomlinson (2003b: 162) notes that
many of the coursebooks he has used concentrated on the linguistic and
analytical aspects of learning and . . . made insufficient use of the learners ability
to learn through doing things physically, to learn through feeling emotion, to learn
through experiencing things in the mind, and the same criticism is implicit in the
title of Rinvolucris (2002) resource book Humanising the Coursebook.
Tomlinson (2011b: 18) also claims that although most current coursebooks . . .
favour learners with a preference for studial learning [i.e. focussed on linguistic
form and correctness] and an apparent assumption that all learners are capable of
benefiting from this style of learning such learners are actually in a minority, and
that other learning styles (or preferences), such as the auditory and experiential,
also need to be catered for. A similar point in relation to the need to cater for
multiple intelligences is made by Botelho (2003).
Global coursebooks (i.e. those produced for an international market) derive
from an anglocentric view of the world and cultural realities that have little
relevance for the majority of learners studying English outside English-speaking
countries; native speaker norms predominate. The transmission of western
values is a form of cultural imperialism. The charge of anglocentrism is typically
voiced by teachers working outside Britain, Australasia and North America
(abbreviated to BANA by Holliday, 1994) or those representing their views (see,
for example, Canagarajah, 1993; Altan, 1995; Gray, 2000). It draws attention to
the fact that when marketing materials UK and US publishers tend to blur very
real differences between the learning environments and learning purposes of those
studying English within BANA who comprise both immigrants and long-
term/short-term student visitors and those outside BANA (Masuhara &
Tomlinson, 2008). While it is perfectly logical for materials intended for use
within BANA to be oriented towards interaction with native speakers and
familiarization with the culture of a specific BANA region (and this is appreciated
by students see, for example, Crawford, 2002), it is difficult to justify such an
emphasis in materials intended for use in contexts where most English use is
between non-native speakers of English. Specifically on the level of language, the
debate on the role of English (as a lingua franca/international language) may rage
over the question of appropriate models and exposure to relevant varieties, but the
issues are complex (see, for example, Gilmore, 2007) and how this might
translate into textbooks is as yet uncertain. Two recent studies of the accents used
in recordings accompanying Finnish textbooks for English language learners
(Kopperoinen, 2011; Kivist, 2005) suggest that in the meantime native speaker
norms continue to dominate.
The issue is not simply one of relevance. Global textbooks originating in the
west inevitably embody western values, which are reflected in both their content
and their underlying pedagogical approach. Seen from the perspective of societies
where such values are not simply alien but potentially malign in their influence,
they have been characterized as a vehicle for cultural imperialism (see, for
example, Alptekin & Alptekin, 1984; Dendrinos, 1992; Phillipson, 1992;
Canagarajah, 1999). Pennycook (1994) has argued forcefully that global
textbooks, through both their content and their recommended teaching practices
and implied classroom role relationships, represent a belief in and advocacy for a
particular way of life, a particular understanding of the world (p.178). He
concludes, nevertheless, that there are . . . possibilities . . . for resistance,
appropriation and change (p.179). This may take the form of teachers
encouraging learners to engage critically with textbooks and other sources of
materials (see, for example, Paran, 2003; Haig, 2006) or an instinctive learner
response. Altan (1995) observes: When both the materials we use and the way
we use them are culturally adverse, then inevitably learners switch off and retreat
into their inner world to defend their own integrity (p.59). Retreat may not be the
only strategy. In some contexts, learners may resist more overtly. For instance,
the Sri Lankan students described by Canagarajah (1993) not only demonstrated a
reluctance to participate in the role plays and conversation activities that featured
in the global textbook they were using but also showed what they expected of the
teacher by moving the chairs he had placed in a circle before the lesson back into
the more traditional rows.
Though the global textbook may have been the focus for such criticisms, it is
important to note that ideology may also be explicit in national textbooks, which
deliberately promote national values and culture to further the aim of social
cohesion (see, for example, Lund & Zoughby, 2007) and one could, of course,
envisage more sinister aims. Moreover, national textbooks are no different from
other materials in embodying, in their rubrics and activities, implicit messages
about the nature of language learning and the relationship and roles of teacher and
learners. Graves (2000: 202) suggests a number of questions to be asked when
analysing the hidden curriculum of a textbook. See also Jazadi (2003) and
Littlejohn (2007, 2011) on what task analysis can reveal.
Coursebooks do not reflect the findings of research into language,
language use or language acquisition; and their representation of cultural
realities is limited, biased or inaccurate. Critics of the language content in
coursebooks have argued that coursebooks do not represent authentic language
use, illustrating this view with reference to reported speech (Barbieri & Eckhardt,
2007), the language of modality (Holmes, 1998), suggestions (Jiang, 2006),
complaints (Boxer & Pickering, 1995), conversation strategies (McCarten &
McCarthy, 2010), closing conversations (Bardovi-Harlig, Hartford, Mahon-
Taylor, Morgan & Reynolds, 1991), telephone conversations (Wong, 2001) and
differences between spoken and written grammar (Cullen & Kuo, 2007);
Harwood (2010b) provides a useful overview of such content analyses. Other
writers have looked at whether the treatment in coursebooks of a specific skill
appears to take account of applied linguistic research. McDonough and Shaw
(2003: Chapters 610), for example, summarize research on each of the main skill
areas and integrated skills and examine how far this research is reflected in
teaching materials. Studies of ESP textbooks have revealed a similar divide
between the findings of linguistic research and teaching materials. Ewer and Boys
(1981) drew attention to the fact that textbooks, particularly in ESP, were based
on shaky linguistic foundations. Twenty years on, Candlin, Bhatia and Jensen
(2002: 300), searching for suitable materials to teach legal English writing,
concluded that of the 56 books they studied few, if any, are premised on any type
of research-based linguistic analysis of legal texts and language (cited in
Harwood, 2010b: 10). Harwoods (2005) review of EAP textbooks found only
one book (Swales & Feak, 2004) based on corpus research (see also Hyland, 1994
and Paltridge, 2002 on writing in EAP). Angouri (2010: 373) found a
discrepancy between the language used in Business English materials concerned
with meetings and that used in real contexts (see also Williams, 1988 and Chan,
2009). Gilmore (2007), who provides a usefully wide-ranging review of studies
comparing authentic and textbook discourse, distances himself a little by arguing
that authenticity should not be seen as inherently good and contrived
examples/discourse as bad; instead, the basis for judgement should be fitness
for purpose (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987: 159).
The language syllabuses in coursebooks and such aspects of their pedagogy as
task design have also been a focus of critical attention. Auerbach and Rogers
(1987, cited in Graves, 2000) drew attention to the fact that the language
functions in US survival textbooks for adult learners emphasized an acquiescent
role as regards the status quo rather than one which involved questioning, analysis
and problem-solving, and therefore represented a hidden curriculum. More
recently, a major impetus has been research in the field of second language
acquisition (SLA), which has called into question the validity of the traditional
grammatical syllabus and the presentation-practice-production (or 3 Ps) approach
on which the coursebooks of the late 1960s and many of their communicative
successors were based. Thornbury and Meddings (2001: 12), for example,
comment: Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research evidence to suggest that
grammar mcnuggets are internalized in the order and at the pace that they are
delivered, and Tomlinson and Masuhara (2010b), surveying the results of 23
research projects, conclude that none of the researchers seems to provide any
evidence supporting either the typical textbook approach of
Practice/Presentation/Production or the typical textbook procedures of listening
and repeating, dialogue reproduction, filling in blanks or answering
comprehension questions (p.399). This may have been because their focus was
not so much on evaluating the effectiveness or otherwise of such procedures but
rather on researching, for example, the effect on motivation of using authentic
texts, of exposure to extended language use through reading and listening or of
discovery learning. While all the research described appears to have achieved
positive results, these fall short of a clear cause and effect relationship between
procedure and evidence of acquisition. A recent review of the effects of SLA
theorizing and research on grammar teaching (Ellis, 2010) is similarly
inconclusive. While arguing that the design of communicative tasks and
techniques for grammatical consciousness-raising have been influenced by work
in SLA, Ellis concedes that little else of this research can be applied directly to
language teaching. The typical textbook approach and procedures may now
seem questionable, but as yet no clear research-based alternative has emerged.
A further very common criticism is that coursebooks perpetuate gender and
other stereotypes and misrepresent reality for instance, by excluding minorities
and by depicting a world that is free of problems and sanitized (see, for example,
Littlejohn & Windeatt, 1989; Thornbury, 1999, 2010; Gray, 2002; McGrath,
2004; Arikan, 2005; Lund & Zoughby, 2007). Global textbook publishers try to
counter stereotypes in their guidance notes for authors, but their whitewashing
approach to textbook content, reflected as Gray (2002) notes in what has been
called PARSNIP (avoiding reference to politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics,
-isms such as communism, and pork), is clearly pragmatic rather than
principled. This is not only an issue for global textbooks, of course.
Underlying many of these criticisms is the feeling that in the world of
textbooks little changes. As Sheldon (1988) observed, in the course of a wide-
ranging critique, textbooks merely grow from and imitate other textbooks and do
not admit the winds of change from research, methodological experimentation, or
classroom feedback (p.239). The development of large language corpora means
that as far as language research is concerned this is perhaps less true now than at
the time Sheldon was writing (see, for example, Stranks, 2003; Richards, 2006;
and papers in Harwood, 2010a). However, complaints of bland content in
textbooks persist (Masuhara, Haan, Yi & Tomlinson, 2008) and researchers are
still finding evidence of stereotyping (e.g. Mukundan & Nimehchisalem, 2008).
Coursebooks marginalize teachers. Coursebooks should be replaced by
resource books. All external materials are an obstacle to real communication.
On the face of it, the variety of resources offered by a modern global coursebook
package is one of its major strengths. However, concerns about this ever-
increasing provision have also been expressed. Writing more than 20 years ago,
Rossner (1988) commented: Current materials tend to overburden the user with
an embarrassment of riches . . . [and] create more work for the teacher, who is
forced to spend more time coming to grips with these materials (p.214). One
result of this increased complexity is that the structure of the textbook is
becoming much tighter and more explicit more like a prepared script. Less and
less appears to be left to the teacher to decide and work out (Hutchinson &
Torres, 1994: 316), a point echoed by Littlejohn (2011): The extent to which
materials may now effectively structure classroom time from a distance has . . .
increased considerably (p.180). According to this view, teachers risk being
The argument, then, is not simply about the expansion in the resources
available. More fundamentally, it is about the roles of textbook and teacher.
Brumfit (1979: 30) expresses the view that even the best textbooks take away
initiative from teachers by implying that there is somewhere an expert who can
solve problems for teachers and learners. The consequence of taking away (or
lost) initiative is de-skilling (Shannon (1987), cited in Richards 1993, 1998a). If
teachers hand over responsibility for decision-making to textbooks, the argument
goes, this reduces their role to that of mere technicians. When the selection of a
textbook is the starting-point for course planning, rather than a stage which
follows consideration of aims, learners needs and teachers capacities and
preferences, the teacher (or whoever else takes decisions for course-planning) has
abdicated from a key responsibility: there is now a real danger that it is the
coursebook which determines course aims, language content and what will be
assessed. In effect, the book becomes the course and the teacher teaches the book.
Swan (1992) warns against the resulting false sense of security:

. . . textbooks . . . can seem to absolve teachers of responsibility. Instead of the

day-to-day decisions that have to be made about what to teach and how to
teach, it is easy just to sit back and operate the system, secure in the belief that
the wise and virtuous people who produced the textbook knew what was good
for us. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. (Swan, 1992: 33, cited in
Hutchinson & Torres, 1994: 315)

Allwright (1981) presents two contrasting perspectives on the role of materials

and the teacher-textbook relationship. If teachers are seen as deficient, the
textbook becomes a form of insurance against their deficiencies (limitations).
Materials therefore need to be teacher-proof. From the difference perspective, the
teacher is seen as having expertise which is different from but complementary to
that of the materials writer. Materials are therefore seen as a resource. Siding with
this latter perspective, he concludes that the management of learning is far too
complex to be satisfactorily catered for by a pre-packaged set of decisions
embodied in teaching materials (p.9).
As alternatives to the textbook, Brumfit and Allwright make rather similar
proposals. Brumfit (1979: 30) envisages resource packs, sets of materials with
advice to teachers on how to adapt and modify the contents, while Allwright
(1981: 9) conceives of a guide to language learning for learners and ideas
books and rationale books for teachers, supported by learner training and an
appropriate focus within teacher training, all within a framework of the
cooperative management of learning by learners and teachers effectively a
process syllabus.
In essence, these are arguments for replacing a textbook by other types of
materials. A more extreme view dispenses altogether with what might normally
be thought of as materials. In a short and undated paper in which he traces the
shifts in his own use of and attitudes to coursebooks, Underhill writes: I have . . .
found that materials, especially coursebooks, can come between me and my
students . . . If Im not careful I reduce myself to a materials operator, separated
from my students by a screen of things to do. Acknowledging this paper as an
influence, Thornbury published in 2000 the first of several papers on dogme in
ELT (the term dogme comes from the manifesto Dogme 95 published by a
Danish film collective, which called for a return to basics in film-making).
Pointing to the vast array of published resources now available, Thornbury (2000)
asks, Where is the inner life of the student in all this? Where is real
communication? Questions such as these led him to call on ELT colleagues to
join him in a vow of EFL chastity enshrined in the dictum that Teaching should
be done using only the resources that teachers and students bring to the
classrooms that is, themselves and whatever happens to be in the classroom
(Thornbury, 2000). Although the burning of textbooks, following the example of
Sylvia Warner, seemed to be advocated at one point (Thornbury & Meddings,
2001), a later paper accepts that textbooks might be among the resources that
teachers or learners bring to the classroom and, indeed, offers a number of
interesting ideas for exploiting coursebooks:

A Dogme approach doesnt necessarily exclude the use of a coursebook . . .

The idea is to use the coursebook, but sparingly . . . It does not mean, however,
propping up the books weaknesses by bringing in yet more materials in the
forms of photocopied exercises, for example . . . The idea is to include
activities that provide optimal exposure, attention, output and feedback, thereby
maximising the chance of language emergence. (Thornbury & Meddings, 2002:
367, original emphasis)

The occasional use of coursebooks might be tolerated, but technology is a definite

taboo, and this pedagogy of bare essentials, to use the strapline from the groups
archived website, now tends to be promoted as Teaching Unplugged. The
website, at http://www.thornburyscott.com/tu/sources.htm, offers convenient
access to a variety of the early papers, including that by Underhill, and a number
of resources; a discussion group can be accessed at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dogme; and the book Teaching Unplugged
(Meddings & Thornbury, 2009) has developed the argument. Edwards (2010)
concludes her review of this book with the comment that it is unlikely to lead to
the disappearance of the coursebook or to affect the growth of technology, but
points out in support of the underlying Dogme concerns: As a teacher, one of my
major worries is the fact that far too many institutions seem to view materials and
equipment as being more important than students and/or teachers . . . We are,
after all, teaching students not materials (p.73).
Given all these criticisms, it is perhaps surprising that, as Hutchinson and
Torres (1994) put it, the textbook not only survives, it thrives (p.316).
Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for this is, as noted earlier, its convenience. As
Hutchinson and Torres point out, textbooks provide the structure that the
teachinglearning system particularly the system in change requires (p.317).
We also need to distinguish, of course, between the first three of these criticisms,
which relate to the coursebook as a product, and the final criticism, which relates
to the way in which the coursebook is perceived and used. Harmer argues that
fears of teachers being led by the nose have been somewhat overstated:

Coursebook critics, it seems to me, focus on unthinking coursebook use to

make their case as if all teachers used them in this way all the time. Yet that
is to suggest that all teachers see coursebooks in the wrong light as
monolithic manuals which have to be followed to the letter, like playscripts.
But coursebooks are not like that and never have been. Like any lesson plan or
succession of plans, they are proposals for action, not instructions for use.
Teachers look at these proposals and decide if they agree with them, if they
want to do things in the way the book suggests, or if, on the contrary, they are
going to make changes, replacing things, modifying activities, approaching
texts differently, or tackling a piece of grammar in a way which they, through
experience, know to be more effective than the exercise on page 26. You can
use a textbook without slavishly following every word; you can love a friend
without agreeing with everything they say or doing everything in the same way
they do. In the hands of engaged teachers, coursebooks, far from being
straitjackets, are spurs to creativity, somewhere to start, something for teachers
to work with and react with or against. (Harmer, 2001: 8, original emphases)

Many teachers do, as Harmer claims, make changes to coursebook materials

based on their beliefs or experience, and engaged teachers may simply use the
materials as a springboard. As we shall see in later chapters, however, there are
also teachers who, for one reason or another, treat a coursebook as a manual or
playscript to be followed.
Rather than simply condemning this as inappropriate, we might ask why this is,
and who is responsible if teachers do treat coursebooks as playscripts. Where
elements of a coursebook package, including technology, are closely integrated
this may be a factor (McGrath, 2007), but there are also implications for
institutional management and teacher education.

2.5 Teaching without a coursebook

Not all teachers use a coursebook. Confident, experienced teachers working in

environments which give them freedom to use whatever materials they like may
prefer to draw on materials from a wide variety of commercial and authentic
sources, and create their own. Teachers involved in specific-purpose teaching, and
especially 1:1 courses, who feel that no suitable textbook exists may find
themselves in the same situation through necessity rather than choice. Other
teachers, who are working towards a specific examination, may base their
teaching largely on previous examination papers. Yet other teachers may be using
an approach or method which is not based on a textbook. In Singapore, for
example, the Ministry of Education has been phasing out the use of English
language textbooks in primary schools in favour of an approach based on the
shared reading of Big Books. The books provide a context for target language
items and a stimulus to discussion and writing; and additional resources are
supplied by the Ministry. In effect, this is a rejection not only of textbooks but
also of teaching based on a textbook. Further examples would be three of the
innovative humanistic methods that emerged during the 1960s. For instance,
Community Language Learning (CLL also known as Counseling Learning) is
based on the language produced by learners, recorded by the teacher, and then
written up for analysis. The early stages of both Total Physical Response (TPR)
and Silent Way are purely oral: in TPR learners follow oral instructions; and
Silent Way makes use of Cuisenaire rods (the small coloured wooden sticks
originally designed for mathematics) and other materials specifically designed for
this method, such as sound/colour charts, which contain blocks of colour
representing phonemes. (For further discussion of these methods, see, for
example, Stevick, 1980; Richards & Rodgers, 2001.) Richards (1985) makes the
interesting point that the lack of a textbook has limited the spread of these
In some contexts, traditional resources of all kinds may be non-existent.
Gebhard (1996) cites a personal communication from Ed Black: I was teaching
English to Chinese immigrants in Jamaica. There was no chalk, no paper, no
books. Me, no Chinese. They, no English (p.107). Gebhard comments:

I am very familiar with such settings . . . it is often difficult to obtain materials

and media through which to teach. But . . . I enjoy the challenge of creating
materials out of everyday things. For example, we can teach students to write in
the air and on the earth, make use of clouds (what do you see? I see a horse)
and of folded leaves and sticks (e.g. to form a town to practice giving
directions), and use our fingers to practice counting. (Gebhard, 1996:1078)

He adds:

I believe that those who are fortunate enough to teach in difficult settings have
an advantage. They are challenged to reach deep within their creative selves
and observe everyday things as possible teaching materials. This is an
education within itself, one that provides an awareness that teaching first of all
concerns what goes on between people, as well as an awareness that at our
fingertips there is an infinite number of materials that are possible resources for
teaching. (Gebhard, 1996:108)

Gebhards enthusiasm is infectious. He is right, of course, that teaching is

essentially an interaction between people and teachers need to exploit fully
whatever means are available to make that encounter as useful and memorable as
possible. He is no doubt also right that difficult circumstances, which include
large classes as well as limited or non-existent resources, bring out the best in
responsible and creative teachers, and in this way contribute to their professional
development. Whether teachers working in such circumstances or their less
resourceful colleagues feel themselves to be fortunate is much less certain.
Faced with a choice between a book and no book, most teachers would probably
choose the book, on the grounds that it is another resource, at least. Sadly, this
section was omitted from the second edition (2006) of Gebhards book, thus
giving the impression at least that such difficult settings no longer exist. Two
short papers by J. Hadfield and C. Hadfield (2003a, 2003b) offer not only a
corrective but also a range of practical suggestions for teachers working with
almost nothing (defined as paper, pens and blackboard) or nothing at all in the
way of provided resources. The papers also raise interesting questions about
teachers wants and needs as far as technology is concerned questions that will
be taken up in Chapter Four.
There are, then, situations in which for one reason or another teachers are not
using a textbook as the basis for a course. Ultimately, of course, what is important
is not what kinds of material are used but whether they help to accomplish the
desired learning outcomes; and this will depend in part at least on how they are
viewed and used.

3. Teachers and learners

3.1 Teachers relationships with materials and learners

Drawing on his discussions with teachers, Bolitho (1990) outlines four ways of
representing symbolically the relationship between teachers, learners and
materials. Slightly reorganized, these are illustrated below:

(i) The most common representation, Bolitho notes, is of a line from materials
through teacher to learner (Figure 1.1):

This suggests, he adds, not only that the teacher has a mediating role between
materials and learners but also that learners cannot access the materials directly
they can do so only through the mediation of the teacher. What the diagram also
implies, of course, is that materials are a form of external provision, given to the
teacher rather than selected by the teacher.

(ii) In Figure 1.2, the relationship between teacher and materials has changed.
The teacher now has equal status with materials:
Bolitho comments: the teacher and the materials are seen as superordinate,
conspiring (as one teacher put it only half-jokingly) to make the learners life
difficult (p.23). Notice that there is no arrow between learner and materials.

(iii) The third representation (Figure 1.3), with arrows going in both directions
between the three points on the circle, differs from the first two most
obviously, as Bolitho observes, in that it recognizes the importance of
learners being able to access materials directly as well as through the
teachers mediation.

We might also comment on four further aspects of this particular representation.

First, the materials are not shown as deriving from an external source; they might
therefore include not only commercial materials but also materials created by
teachers or supplied by learners. Second, materials are represented as a source for
both teacher and learners on one side of the diagram, but on the other, teacher and
learners are free of any influence of external materials implying that such
materials do not determine all classroom interaction. Third, if we take a broad
view of materials as anything which contributes to learning, we might wish to see
that unfettered interaction between teacher and learners (or between learners) as
resulting in co-constructed materials, and assign these materials their own place
on the empty side of the diagram. Finally, this circular representation also takes
account of the fact that materials do not have to be treated in a serial fashion
(Weve done Unit 3. Lets go on to Unit 4.). Both learners and teachers may
wish to review what has already been done; learners may also wish to preview
what will be done in future lessons.
(iv) On the face of it, the triangle depicted below (Figure 1.4) says exactly the
same as the circle in (iii).

However, not all triangles are equilateral. If the base were shorter than the two
sides, this might imply that both teacher and learner were distant from the
materials, either because they are too difficult or, perhaps, not used very much. If
the side linking materials and teacher were short, on the other hand, that might
imply that the teacher identifies closely with the materials. The teachers surveyed
by Bolitho also pointed out that triangles like the one depicted have an apex and a
base, which suggests a hierarchy, with materials dominating; one teacher felt that
the diagram illustrated the tendency that teachers have to blame materials (or
learners) when things go wrong, and the similar tendency displayed by learners to
blame teachers (or materials) (p.23).
At the heart of this discussion, of course, are the attitudes of teacher and
learners to materials. Richards (1998a: 131) has commented on the danger of
reification (the unjustifiable attribution of qualities of excellence, authority and
validity) of textbooks by teachers, adding that in some parts of the world this
tendency may be reinforced by cultural conditioning: Teachers . . . tend to
assume that any item included in a textbook must be an important learning item
for students, and that explanations (e.g. of grammar rules or idioms) and cultural
information provided by the author are true and should not be questioned (ibid.).
Moreover, they assume that they do not have the authority or knowledge to adapt
the textbook (ibid.). Learners, similarly, may perceive published materials as
more authoritative than those produced by their own teachers and therefore attach
more value to them.

3.2 New roles for learners

Bolitho (1990) makes a number of important points about the relationships
between materials, teachers and learners.
Let us start with materials, which means textbooks first and foremost. Here the
weight of tradition is heavy. Ever since the advent of the printed word in the
Middle Ages, textbooks in education have represented knowledge. The handing
over of a set of textbooks by a teacher to a class is an act with symbolic
significance: Here is your textbook. If you learn what is in it you will succeed
is the implication. This tradition still holds good in the overwhelming majority
of educational contexts, worldwide. (Bolitho, 1990: 23)

The book, in this tradition, constitutes the course. The teachers role is to teach
and finish! the book. Learners know that they will be tested on what is in the
book (in some cases, not only on the language but also the content of texts). The
book defines what is to be taught and learned.

Learners . . . have been able to take the book home, to revise from it perhaps
with the help of parents educated in the same tradition, and to go into end-of-
year examinations confident of having covered all the materials necessary for
success. Vocabulary lists and grammar rules could be learned by heart and
applied in tests of linguistic competence. Set texts could be memorised and
liberally quoted in literature examinations. Learning a language had more to do
with acquiring knowledge than with developing skills. (Bolitho, 1990: 24)

With the advent of the communicative approach, materials changed and

expectations of teachers and learners changed. As Bolitho notes:

. . . publishers, methodologists and textbook authors have been encouraging

teachers to see a communicative textbook as a resource to draw on in teaching
a course, even as a point of departure for classroom activities, rather than as a
convergently conceived framework for study. But has anyone bothered to tell
learners this? . . . Learners are entitled to know why they are asked to behave in
certain ways . . . and how they can learn most effectively. Yet how many
teachers go into classrooms and simply expect learners to do as they are asked
without a word of explanation? (Bolitho, 1990: 245)

Bolitho is right, of course. These days, many textbooks do include sections on

learning to learn, but especially when what is expected of learners represents a
break with cultural tradition, an explanation needs to be offered, and the teacher is
in the best position to give this. This point applies even more strongly to attempts
to give learners more responsibility. For instance, it has been proposed that
learners should:

be involved in textbook evaluation and selection or decisions about which

parts of a textbook should be studied
be shown how to make independent use of both classroom materials and
out-of-class resources
be encouraged to interact critically with the content of textbooks and other
provide supplementary materials to be used in class

generate materials that can be used by other learners.

(See, for example, Wright, 1987; Clarke, 1989; Tudor, 1993; Deller, 1990;
Campbell & Kryszewska, 1992 and McGrath, 2002 for reviews of these and
other sources.)
What lies behind all these suggestions is the belief that motivation is enhanced
when learners have some control over and investment in their own learning, when
decisions about what is done and how it is done are not imposed but taken with
teachers or by learners themselves. For these ideas to take root, however, teachers
have to be prepared to share responsibility with learners; learners have to be
willing to accept these new roles; and both teachers and learners have to look at
materials with fresh eyes. We return to the topic of learners and materials in
Chapter Seven.

3.3 Teacher roles

3.3.1 Choice
In situations where more than one textbook is available, or a course is based on
materials other than a textbook, there is a need to choose. Choice is generally held
to be a good thing, but it is not always simple. Even when there was much less
choice than there is now, the selection of a textbook might be influenced by a
variety of factors, as the following quotation from an American educator makes

The color of a salesmans necktie and the crease in his trousers, the beauty of
binding and illustrations, and the opinions of officious administrative officers
have all been potent factors in choosing books. More consequential have been
the prestige of author and publisher, and the influence of wide current use.

(McElroy, 1934: 5)

Almost half a century later, British commentators were still warning about
teachers being taken in by skilful marketing (Brumfit, 1979) and jazzy covers
(Grant, 1987: 119); and popularity, as evidenced by sales figures (Sheldon, 1988),
and the reputations of the major publishers and writers of best-selling textbooks
continue to be seen as guarantors of textbook quality. McElroy himself is in no
doubt, however, that whether the author be great or small, the publisher powerful
or unknown, the final determinant should be the book itself: what it contains and
how the material is presented (ibid.).
Much rests on the choice of book, and care therefore needs to be taken over the
selection process. As McElroy points out:

To experiment haphazardly with new books is expensive. In former times the

Board of Education took sole responsibility for selecting books. In larger
school systems today, the Superintendent, the High School principal, or a
supervisor exercise practically final authority. Preferred practice delegates this
authority to a small textbook committee representing not only those who are
responsible to legal authorities but classroom teachers as well. (McElroy, 1934:

The financial implications of a bad decision referred to in the first part of this
quotation are certainly one consideration. Where institutions or parents are buying
textbooks in the expectation that they will be reused, they are seen as a kind of
investment. However, the choice of an inappropriate textbook will also affect
teachers. Whenever a new book is adopted, teachers spend time familiarizing
themselves with it; and the less appropriate it proves to be the more time will be
needed to compensate for its inadequacies. For learners, moreover, an
inappropriate textbook has limited value as a learning resource. The consequences
are less serious when courses are not based on a single textbook, but time has still
been wasted and learning opportunities lost, and the search for suitable materials
has to begin again.
Bad decisions can, in theory at least, be avoided if proper processes are in
place. As can be seen from the quotation above, preferred practice in America in
the 1930s delegated textbook selection to a small committee on which classroom
teachers were represented. These days, materials may be selected by an
institutional manager, a group of teachers, or the teacher teaching a particular
class. In the latter case, the impact of a bad decision may affect fewer people, but
it will be just as great on those it does affect. Teachers therefore need to be able to
make or contribute to informed selection decisions. We return to textbook
selection processes and materials evaluation more generally in Chapter Three.

3.3.2 Control
Commercial coursebooks are written to appeal to as wide a population as possible
and even national coursebooks have to cater for some degree of variation in
learners, teachers and learning environments. If we therefore accept that the
perfect coursebook for a particular teacher and group of learners not only does not
but cannot exist, and that a coursebook should be seen primarily as a resource
book, then it follows that the responsibility for deciding what to use from the
coursebook and how to use it lies with the teacher:

The coursebook should never be allowed to assume an authority it does not

merit and consequently be blamed for failing to work, but rather seen as a
friendly guide, suggesting areas of study and approaches, but always open to
manipulation by the teacher who ultimately will have the best opportunity to
know his/her students and their particular needs. (Acklam, 1994: 13)

In short, it is the teacher and not the coursebook who should control or manage
what happens, and one of the ways in which that control can manifest itself is
through creative use (or manipulation, in Acklams terms) of the coursebook.

3.3.3 Creativity
Dudley-Evans & St John (1998), writing about ESP, state that practitioners have
to be . . . good providers of materials (pp.1723). A good provider, for them,
needs to have the ability to:
1 select appropriately from what is available
2 be creative with what is available
3 modify activities to suit learners needs and
4 supplement by providing extra activities (and extra input) (Dudley-Evans &
St John, 1998: 173).

This list of abilities is applicable not just to ESP but to all forms of English
language teaching, of course, and corresponds very closely to the teacher roles
identified in earlier sections: (1) may be understood as both selecting from
material that has been provided (e.g. a textbook) and the process of selecting a
suitable textbook, where this is possible; (2) refers to exploitation that is, getting
something extra out of the material; (3) to adaptation; and (4) to supplementation
which is designed to provide more exposure to the language or more opportunities
for practice, which, at its least adventurous, may involve no more than borrowing
from other published materials. However, point 4 could extend to selecting
authentic texts and designing suitable exploitation activities or creating wholly
original practice materials such as worksheets or tasks. A curriculum document
for Hong Kong secondary school teachers cited in Samuda (2005: 236) states that:
All English teachers must take on the responsibility for selecting and adapting
suitable tasks from different materials or designing tasks for their own learners
(Curriculum Development Council, Hong Kong, 1999: 48). Samuda (ibid.) notes:
The clear expectation is that both redesign and original design work will be
incorporated into a second language teachers normal professional repertoire.
There is no explicit reference in Dudley-Evans and St Johns list of roles to
creating original materials; indeed, they state explicitly that one of the myths of
ESP has been that you have to write your own materials. Nevertheless, aspects of
creative design run through the set of roles they specify; even the decision not to
use certain elements of a textbook can be seen as an act of reshaping or redesign.
As Madsen & Bowen acknowledge:

Every teacher is in a very real sense an adapter of the textbook or materials he

uses. . . . He adapts when he adds an example not found in the book or when he
telescopes an assignment by having students prepare only the even-numbered
items. He adapts even when he refers to an exercise covered earlier, or when
he introduces a supplementary picture, song, realia or report. (Madsen &
Bowen, 1978: vii)

With experience, all teachers will instinctively adapt materials in many or all of
the ways described by Madsen and Bowen. However, if we wish them to go
beyond such low-level adaptation and supplementation to forms of provision
which are more demanding in terms of creativity, expertise and potentially time,
we may need to persuade them of the need and help them to develop the
necessary confidence and skills. We may also want to encourage them to accept
learners as active partners rather than as recipients of materials and teaching. The
implications for teacher education are clear.

4. Teacher education in materials evaluation and design

4.1 The need

The need for teacher education in materials evaluation and design and the focus of
this may have been implicit in the discussion of teacher roles in the last section,
but this need has also been explicitly recognized. In an international survey of
perceptions of teacher needs (Henrichsen, 1983), a questionnaire was sent to 500
teachers and employers in the United States of America and more than 30 other
countries. Recipients were asked to rate the importance of 60 content areas (e.g.
educational psychology, American literature, intercultural understanding,
transformational grammar, Total Physical Response) divided into eight uneven
groups (e.g. Education, Linguistics, Literature, TESL/TEFL Methods,
TESL/TEFL Materials). TESL/TEFL Materials consisted of just two items:
Materials Selection and Evaluation and Materials Development and Production.
One hundred and fifty three responses (a return rate of 31%) were received from a
total of 30 countries. These were analysed along a number of dimensions.
Overall, training in materials selection and evaluation ranked top for respondents
from outside the United States of America and second when all respondents were
considered; when respondents were broken down by institution type or
geographical area, materials selection and evaluation generally came out
considerably higher than materials development and production.
That very strong message from both teachers and employers about the
importance of teacher education relating to materials endorses Cunningsworths
(1979) view that trainees on EFL teacher training courses need to be shown what
to look for when evaluating course materials, and should be helped to develop
criteria against which they can make a professional judgement when confronted
with new or unfamiliar material (p.31). Hutchinson and Torres (1994) suggest
that the scope of such programmes should be broader, arguing that a central
feature of all teacher training and development should be to help teachers to be
able to evaluate textbooks properly, exploit them in the class, and adapt and
supplement them when necessary (p.327); Richards (2001b) goes still further:
teachers need training and experience in adapting and modifying textbooks as
well as in using authentic materials and in creating their own materials (p.16,
emphasis added). This combined set of stated needs corresponds perfectly to that
articulated by Dudley-Evans and St John (1998) cited in the previous section.
Many years ago, McElroy (1934), who was thinking of both formal teacher
education and the value of experience, observed: As teacher preparation
increases, the importance of the textbook diminishes (p.5). As an argument for
teacher education in materials evaluation and design, this is just as true now as it
was then.

4.2 Provision

Such calls notwithstanding, the study of materials does not as yet constitute a
universally accepted core component of even pre-service teacher education
programmes. None of Fredriksson and Olssons (2006) small-scale sample of four
experienced Swedish teachers of English and other languages had ever heard of
any guides or literature on this topic (p.7) and the authors conclude that in
Sweden materials evaluation . . . is not a well known concept (ibid). Gonzlez
Moncada (2006), who surveyed 12 undergraduate teacher education courses in
Colombia, found that only one other than her own provided training in materials.
Writing about the Arab Gulf, Bahumaid (2008) notes that though there is a
materials production component in the MA TESOL programme at the American
University of Sharjah, there is no comparable component in undergraduate or
postgraduate programmes in TEFL at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, The
United Arab Emirates University or Kuwait University, and concludes that
training in both materials evaluation and development is needed for teachers and
inspectors in the region. Writing more generally, Canniveng and Martinez (2003)
claim that teacher training courses give little importance (or even sometimes
ignore this area) in their programmes (p.479).
One explanation for this apparent invisibility may lie in the fact that materials
are treated as one element of the larger picture (e.g. within courses dealing with
curriculum development or syllabus planning) or, as Tomlinson (2001) has
suggested, seen as a subsection of methodology. Block (1991) was thinking of
lacunae in the professional literature when he commented: The assumption
seems to be that materials selection, adaptation and development will take care of
themselves (p.211), but he might have been referring to language teacher
education. The argument that will be advanced in this book is that even if teachers
are expected to carry out no more than three of the roles identified by Dudley-
Evans and St John (1998) selecting appropriately from what they are given,
being creative with what is available (i.e. exploiting it) and modifying activities to
suit learners needs they need guidance and hands-on practice in the form of a
dedicated course. If, in addition, they are expected to supplement the core
materials by providing extra activities (a minimal interpretation of Dudley-Evans
and St Johns fourth role) or develop their own materials, as advocated by some
writers (e.g. Block, 1991; Richards, 1998a; Tomlinson, 2003c; Jolly & Bolitho,
2011) and required in Hong Kong, then that argument is even stronger. We return
to the theme of teacher education in Chapters Four and Ten.

External perspectives: Theory


Publisher and coursebook writer perspectives

We, like the publishing houses, were interested in innovation and

principled pedagogy; however, our perspectives were different.
(Mares, 2003: 136)
In using textbooks . . . teachers have to put back some of the creativity that may
have been lost in the process of textbook publication.
(Richards, 2001b: 14)

1. Introduction
Commercial publishing is a complex business. It is a business because publishers
are motivated primarily by profit. It is complex because many people, with very
different roles, are involved and because so many factors have to be considered.
This is particularly true of coursebook packages, and especially those intended for
sale in a number of different countries (the so-called global coursebook).
In this chapter, we explore the process of commercial materials development
from two main perspectives: that of the publisher (or those representing the
publisher) and that of the writer. Section 2 briefly describes the development
process, with particular reference to the stages and people involved, and Section 3
discusses the various forms of research that are typically conducted prior to
publication. Section 4 explores the constraints and compromises that determine
the final product. Section 5 presents views, primarily of writers, on teachers as
end users of materials.
Accounts of institutional (i.e. non-commercial) materials development can be
found in the collections edited by Hidalgo, Hall and Jacobs (1995), Tomlinson
(2003a), Alexander (2007), Harwood (2010a), Tomlinson and Masuhara (2010a)
and papers by, for instance, Carroll and Head (2003) and St Louis, Trias and
Pereira (2010).
2. The development process
Publishers of ELT materials make most of their money from coursebooks,
dictionaries and grammar books. While they remain open to approaches
(unsolicited proposals) from prospective writers of other types of materials, as far
as coursebooks are concerned, the major publishers at least tend to play safe by
commissioning new series from writers they know or as a less expensive
option publish new editions of popular series.
Central to the development process on the publishers side is a person normally
known as the commissioning editor or project development editor (not to be
confused with the desk editor or copy editor, who carries out the detailed work on
the manuscript when it is submitted). As described by Wala (2003a: 58), the
project development editor operates as the fulcrum of a materials development
project, maintaining balance and ensuring that the project continues to progress
towards publication. The editor functions as a filter and a crucial contact between
content originated by the writers and its expression through layout, design,
illustration, marketing and promotion. As this description implies, the editor
supervises a team including one or more desk editors and a designer, but also
coordinates the project from its inception through to the post-production phase.
In the case of a new coursebook project, the inception phase involves market
analysis and planning. Writers will then be invited to submit proposals and these
will be sent out for review. Once a proposal has been approved (and this may take
some time) and a contract issued, writing can begin in earnest. During this period,
there will be frequent contact between the writer(s), the editor and others in the
production team, especially the designer, and the materials revised. Sample
sections of the materials will be sent out for review and piloting, visits made to
the main market(s) and further revisions made. The end is in sight. Proof copies
of the print materials will now be produced for checking by the authors. Changes
made, the first copies will then be sent out to bookshops and journal reviewers,
and the promotional talks and visits will begin.
Wala (2003a) makes the telling point that A coursebook is the way it is
because of what it has to do (p.60), what it has to do being to fulfil a particular
role in a particular context. Seen in this light, if a book fails it is because it was
either inadequate or inappropriate for that context. The implications for careful
research are clear.

3. Pre-publication research

3.1 Market analysis

The thinking that lay behind an Austrian companys decision to publish Focus on
Modern Business for upper-secondary business schools in that country is
described as follows:

First and foremost, the market size of Austrian upper secondary business
schools is quite big. Secondly, the government-imposed limit on the price of a
book for this market is relatively high. In addition, competition was weak and a
new syllabus was to become effective exactly when volume one was to be
published. Finally, market research made clear that teachers they decide
which book is used in school were longing for a new textbook. As a
consequence, expected sales figures and estimated profit were quite high.
(Pogelschek, 2007: 101)

This example of market analysis highlights such factors as potential sales (related
to size of market and likely demand), profit margins and market share. Market
analysis may, of course, go beyond this to look at specific characteristics of end
users (teachers and learners). Describing the market for conversation materials in
American English in Japan, Richards (1995) notes that because speaking skills are
not assessed in the Japanese university entrance examination there is little demand
for conversation skills books in schools. The main markets will therefore be
junior colleges, universities and private language schools, where teachers are
often native-speakers of English, some of whom have little or no training and
others may be Japanese teachers, with varying levels of English proficiency
(p.95). In this particular case, the publisher had already decided that it wanted to
publish in order to help it maintain its position as market leader in the area of
conversation texts for the Japanese and related markets (p.96). The main question
therefore concerned what was needed. To answer this question, information was
collected in a number of ways from a number of sources: from classroom teachers
in Japan, Taiwan and Korea; publishers marketing representatives; consultants
(experienced teachers in the kinds of institutions where the new materials were
most likely to be used); and learners, whose views were accessed via the
Broadly speaking, then, market analysis indicates whether there is a large
enough potential market for a book to make its publication potentially profitable
and what the nature of that market is likely to be. The wider that potential market
is, the better, of course. As Amrani (2011) puts it, publishing is about developing
materials which offer the highest possible return on investment without
compromising essential minimum customer expectations (p.273).

3.2 Writer research

The kinds of research writers carry out will depend on their prior knowledge of
the market and the nature of the materials. Where the market is unfamiliar and the
potential rewards seem large enough, this kind of planning research may be a
lengthy process. Greenall (2011) notes that during the first four or five years of
the development of a series of books for Chinese junior middle and senior high
schools (a huge market), a great deal of time was spent in discussions with
Chinese editors, publishers and professors about the kind of English that China
would need for the 21st century and researching the traditions of teaching and
publishing in China.
The need for such research to involve contact between writers and classroom
teachers is emphasized by Wala (2003b), who points to an inherent tension
between curriculum planners, syllabus designers and textbook writers, all of
whom offer proposals for action, and the teachers faced with implementing these:

Syllabus designers and curriculum planners are located in the future. . . . They
work with ideals[,]. . . abstracts[,] . . . objectives [and] outcomes in mind. . . .
Teachers, on the other hand, are mired in the present. They must teach todays
learner, in todays classroom, within todays curriculum, system and school
environment. For the teacher, the syllabus is the theory and the textbook is the
manual that will enable the practice. Teachers work with a textbook developed
a few years ago in hand and the practical realities of the situation staring them
in the face. Such is the location from which teachers will evaluate materials.
Materials developers occupy a kind of twilight zone materials must answer
present-day teacher needs for tomorrows class with a view to meeting the
goals of education for the future. Given these different and distinct locations, it
is important that the materials development process allows for dialogue . . .
(Wala, 2003b: 157)

Writers might also consult the professional literature or research language use.
When planning his books on conversation skills, primarily for the Japanese
market, Richards (1995) looked at existing conversation books and the literature
on conversation strategies. Many writers these days would use the internet to
check word frequency and concordances to ensure that examples reflect real
language use. The internet is also an ideal source of texts. The days of the files
and boxes full of yellowing newspaper articles and magazines saved for future
use are over in a world where google has become an accepted verb (Prowse,
2011: 167). Web texts also have the advantage that they can easily be saved and
edited (Sharma, cited in Prowse, 2011).

3.3 Obtaining feedback

3.3.1 Reviewers
Publishers use reviewers at different stages of a project and for different purposes
depending on the nature of the project. In the case of an unsolicited proposal,
reviewers will be asked to comment on pedagogic value and commercial
potential, and negative reviews will lead to a polite rejection. Commissioned
projects will be handled very differently. The first complete draft of the first level
of Richardss conversation skills books was sent out to seven reviewers
(Richards, 1995). The editor summarized their comments, pointed out that the
Japanese market was flooded with books based on a functional syllabus, and
added his own thoughts:

The units . . . that are functionally organised (e.g. Places and Directions, Cities
and Places, Leisure and Entertainment) for me were the least interesting. The
units that are based on topics that are really interesting to students (Music,
Movies, Television, On Vacation) are . . . the most in line with where the
market is right now.
The direction the manuscript needs to go in is clear: more topic-based units,
more real world content and more focus on the world of the students . . . There
are several key topics that are missing: dating, travel, customs, careers,
environmental issues, campus life, student lifestyles, dos and donts in other
countries. Some of these are more appropriate for Level 2. Others can be the
focus of existing units. (Editor cited by Richards, 1995: 1067)

The decision was taken to reduce the number of units from 20 to 15 and to write
some entirely new units. Richards estimates that 60 per cent of the material in the
second draft was new.
Technological developments mean that communications between publisher and
reviewer are now much faster than in the past, thereby speeding up the
development process. Materials can now be sent out for review in PDF form or
Word digital files as e-mail attachments and comments returned in the same way,
often using the track change facility in Word. Advances in desktop publishing
also mean that the materials sent out for review are much closer to their finished
For coursebook materials, reviewers will include experienced teachers who are
able to assess how well the materials would work in their contexts and academics,
whose views may be sought from a particular theoretical or research perspective.
Both of these types of reviewer would be sent basic background information in
the form of a rationale and list of contents together with a small quantity of
materials and asked to complete a feedback sheet (Amrani, 2011). Being in a
standard format, this can then easily be compiled into a single report.

3.3.2 Piloting
Given the costs involved in textbook production, one would expect publishers to
minimize the risk by piloting (or field testing) draft materials before going into
full production. Yet Richards (1995: 100) notes: I can think of several major
textbook series which were published in recent years involving development and
production costs of at least half a million US dollars each, which proved to be
failures shortly after publication, the reason in each case being the same: both
publisher and author failing to do their homework failing to consult the end
users to see if the kind of textbook they were planning really suited the needs of
teachers and learners.
Pogelschek (2007) admits that hardly any research was considered when
producing Focus on Modern Business for the Austrian market. No piloting was
carried out; nor was there any consideration of the question of authority in texts
and textbooks; different teaching styles; the attitudes of teachers towards
textbooks; possible images and roles of textbooks; [or] the design process of
educational material (p.103). This is not to say that no research took place:
typical topics discussed with authors and advisors were the thematic areas, the
length of texts, the types of exercises, the sequence of contents, but there was no
deeper consideration of the rationale for any of the proposals made. There
seemed to be a tacit agreement to produce Focus on Modern Business as all the
textbooks before (p.104). One reason for this was time pressure. Even without
the kinds of research Pogelschek lists, the time period from first idea to
production of first copies was 49 months, that is, 4 years, and to get a head start
on the market, the book had to be published at the same time the new syllabus
was released.
The distinction between review and piloting is very clearly articulated by
Donovan (1998: 186):

Topics and content, as well as the exercises and tasks themselves, can only
really be judged when the materials are actually in use. A contents list which
might look prosaic and predictable can come to life in the actual material
through the skill of the writers in selecting or constructing suitable texts and
tasks. Only by using these in class will we know if they actually appeal to the
learners, are relevant to their needs, and stimulate their interest and

Piloting benefits publishers and authors (and their material) in a number of ways.
It is, for example, a way of raising the profile of a new product in the marketplace
through piloters or reviewers who are known to be trendsetters; it is also a way of
raising awareness within sales development teams and encouraging them to get
some of their potential customers involved to ensure that what is produced takes
their needs into account (Amrani, 2011). Most obviously, it is an opportunity to
validate materials (Donovan, 1998). Feedback through piloting is sought on two
levels: that of how well it seems to suit the key features of the target context and
meet learners interests and needs and, on a more micro level, how well specific
activities worked.
Cambridge English for Schools (Cambridge University Press) was piloted
during the 1990s on approximately 5,000 learners in a number of different
countries over a two-year period, because it represented a significant financial
investment. For the publisher, as we have seen, time is also an important factor.
Though it might have been desirable to pilot a complete level (one years
material) in the same institution(s), the distribution of parts of the materials across
pilot centres was a means of speeding up the process.
Donovan was describing ELT publishing in the midlate 1990s. Writing some
13 years later, Amrani (2011) notes that the world of ELT publishing [then] . . .
was a different place (p.267), one of the differences being the relative importance
attached to piloting whilst this remains one of the ways in which materials are
evaluated, it is no longer the main way that publishers do this (ibid.). Reasons for
this change include the fact that the timeframes for materials development are
shorter (now two to three years rather than four or more previously); course
content, approach and task design may be dictated by standards such as the
Common European Framework or exam syllabuses; and digital materials need to
be in more or less final format if they are to be properly tested. The challenges
facing the ELT publisher today are less to do with modifying fundamental
materials design for main course development and more to do with how to blend
and marry topics or formats into existing well-established core course content
Piloting these days, according to Amrani (2011), typically involves piloters
incorporating a small amount of the pilot material into their normal teaching
programme, making notes on the pages of the material, and keeping a teaching
diary. They are asked for their comments on what went well and less well (and
why), on the order of activities, the clarity of exercise rubrics and timing, what
questions students asked, and whether anything needs to be added. The editor
then collates this feedback into a comprehensive report. A version of this, with
the editors suggestions, is then sent to the writers. One weakness of this kind of
piloting, as Amrani points out, is that the kind of experienced teachers who
volunteer for pilots may only represent a minority of those for whom the
materials are intended. This argues for other forms of input into the development

3.3.3 Visits (observation, focus groups, discussion)

Prowse (2011) notes that the projects he has worked on as a writer have involved
repeated visits to the market by authors and editors while a project is under
development and during the writing process. These visits typically include
classroom observation of lessons in a range of schools and locations, discussions
with students about their interests, individual and focus group discussions with
teachers, meetings with educational advisers and planners, and discussions with
methodologists and teacher trainers working in the market (pp.1667).
Amrani (2011: 290) gives a helpful insight into the conduct of a focus group:

The techniques a facilitator uses are prompt questions to initiate discussion and
probe questions to explore deeper-held beliefs and reactions. A common
situation would be a general prompt question such as: Do you like any of these
units? Unit 3. This would then be followed by wh- questions such as: What
specifically do you like about it? Its the way its structured. Why do you
like the structure? Because it has a clear warm-up activity, presentation
activity, grammar activity, vocabulary section, skills activity and review and
nice workbook activities. When would you use the workbook activities? As
homework. Why dont you like the other two units?

Focus groups offer the opportunity not only for easy interaction between
facilitator and teacher, they are also a way of gauging how the group as a whole
feels about important issues, issues in some cases raised by individuals rather than
the facilitator (Amrani, 2011). To overcome logistical issues, they can also be
organized remotely (Prowse, 2011).
Visits have always continued after publication, for promotional purposes. They
now serve the further purpose of collecting feedback on the materials in use in
order to inform the development of future editions (Prowse, 2011).

4. Constraints and compromises

4.1 Time and money

Publishers do not take the decision to publish lightly. While they may accept that
it is desirable to engage in certain types of publishing for the sake of their
reputation and a balanced list, the decision to publish textbooks is, as Pogelschek
(2007: 100) acknowledges, most often commercially and operationally oriented.
A textbook is a major commitment in terms of both time and money. As far as
time is concerned, one of the key variables is the nature of any piloting and
another may be the need to obtain Ministry of Education approval. Time will also
be a factor when a new syllabus is to be introduced (Wala, 2003b) in a target
market or when a publisher knows that competing publishers are bringing a
similar product to market (Richards, 1995). Publishers accept that in the
commercial world a successful product will soon be imitated; it is therefore
important to be first in order to ensure a larger market share. A number of
decisions affecting the final look and feel of the materials will also be determined
by a publisher on financial grounds: in particular, the relationship between
production costs, anticipated sales price and predicted sales. Since the number of
sales is the one variable the publisher cannot control and sales price will to a large
extent be limited by the need to stay competitive, publishers will try to control the
third variable, production costs, in order to maximize profit while maintaining
quality and competitiveness. These considerations will influence, for example,
book length and size, type and number of illustrations, paper quality and the
provision of additional components (workbook, test book, CD, etc.).
Tomlinson, Dat, Masuhara and Rubdy (2001) surveyed eight courses for adults
(two from each of four major publishers), and a similarly focused review was
conducted several years later (Masuhara, Hann, Yi & Tomlinson, 2008) of a
single coursebook package from each of eight publishers. Both reviews were
particularly critical of design features. Tomlinson et al. (2001) comment that
some of the courses they reviewed were cluttered and dense, with too much text
crammed onto each page and not enough white space to provide relief and
clarity; there was also a lack of clear separation and sequencing on the page
(p.89). Masuhara et al. (2008) reached a similar conclusion, three of the eight
books they surveyed being judged cluttered and busy. They also considered the
illustrations in the coursebooks unimaginative and, comparing these with those
examined by Tomlinson et al. (2001), wondered:

Where are the aesthetic paintings, simulated documents (e.g. papers,

paperbacks), cartoons, and intriguing illustrations which created interesting
discussions and useful activities? The illustrations seem to be smaller and more
functional. Even headings and icons seem to have become smaller and more
insignificant. (Masuhara et al., 2008: 303)

Where they are available, Teachers Books can be an invaluable resource for the
inexperienced teacher or the teacher using a coursebook for the first time. The
most useful type of Teachers Book will be one which provides not only
suggestions for adaptation but also ideas for additional activities (Tomlinson et
al., 2001: 91). Design is also important. All but one of the eight Teachers Books
reviewed by Tomlinson et al. (2001) were judged to be unattractive in
appearance and poorly designed (ibid.).
What such reviews suggest is that the linked pressures of time and money may
mean that compromises are made, compromises which also involve writers.

4.2 The writers perspective

Writers, like publishers, hope that what will be produced will make money. After
all, they have invested a great deal of time and effort. However, it is probably fair
to say that the financial return is not their main or only motivation. Authors are
generally concerned to produce a text that teachers will find innovative, creative,
relevant to their learners needs, and that they will enjoy teaching from
(Richards, 2001: 14); perhaps one day they will even encounter a student who
says with a big grin on his face, I learned English from your book (Prowse,
2011: 172). Bell and Gower (1998) write: We wanted to produce something that
gave us professional satisfaction and was academically credible to our colleagues,
something we could be proud of (p.146). For Harmer (in Prowse, 2011: 1712),
coursebook writing arises from:

. . . a genuine wish to provide material that will brighten any class; a desire to
offer reliable material for the most put-upon teacher; a matter of excitement
and compromises; an act of creativity that all too often seems suffocating and
doomed. But when, against all the odds, and in the light of linguistic and
methodological constraints, you actually manage to make something that you
know will work, the feeling is fantastic. Its not actually that much different
from teaching; we dont always teach great classes, but when we do we want to
shout it from the rooftops. Thats what its like on the rare occasions when
coursebook writers get it right.

First-time writers may also feel they have something to offer that is
groundbreakingly different:

Our material, originally written in the late 1980s, was free of graded
grammatical syllabuses. In fact, it was free of virtually any conventional
constraints with respect to unit length or template. We believed in providing
rich language input and engaging tasks. Our units were not fettered by
templates but steered by our feelings about what would be interesting material
for students to work with. We felt that different topics might require different
amounts of time to cover in an interesting way. They did not all merit the same
treatment in terms of number of pages per unit, number of activities, etc.
(Mares, 2003: 136)

What Mares and his co-author had failed to realize was that they were attempting
to enter a world which operated according to well-established principles, the
most important being that publishing is a business and businesses are run for
profit (ibid.). It took some time for them to come to terms with the fact that the
publisher might, after all, know best:

For a number of years we struggled with the tension that existed between
writing materials we believed in and materials someone else believed would
sell. We, like the publishing houses, were interested in innovation and
principled pedagogy; however, our perspectives were different. The principled
pedagogy that we believed in required teachers to belong to a particular
teaching generation whose education and training had been fuelled by SLA
research findings. We were, in fact, addressing a very limited market. We heard
that information before we fully internalised it. Our convictions were stronger
than our pragmatic sense. . . . (ibid.)

As the later part of this quotation illustrates, beginner writers expectations of

their audience may well have to be tempered by publishing realities. As Mares
(2003) adds: I was not writing for non-native teachers with low confidence in
their command of the English language, but in the world of the market these
teachers make up a sizeable slice (p.131). Eventually, he and his co-author
understood that compromise is necessary but takes various forms, from complete
cop out involving the surrender of most beliefs to principled choice made for the
common good within a sound pedagogic framework. We feared the former before
understanding that the latter was an acceptable alternative (ibid.). Given the
predictable mismatch between their preference for a free-flowing approach and
publishers liking for standard unit and page formats, one compromise was in the
area of design. They therefore accepted the need for a template but settled on a
varying template within a consistent page limit; they also agreed that listening
scripts should be limited to a certain number of lines and grudgingly tried to
work with the notion of white space . . . [,] a user-friendly page where all stages
in any given activity are transparent and doable (p.137).
Other writers have also commented on the potential for tensions concerning
book design. Bell and Gower (2011: 140), for instance, question the
preoccupation with page formats and unit standardization:

We . . . have heard designers severely criticise the design of successful books

and praise the design of books that are not thought by teachers to be well
designed. Does it matter to a teacher whether there are one, two or three
columns on a page and whether a unit is a uniform length in its number of
pages? Maybe it is important to some teachers, but in our experience, what
matters more is that it is absolutely clear on the page where things are and what
their purpose is and that the balance (and tone) of visuals and text is right for
their students.

An experienced coursebook writer sums up the difference in perspectives of

designer and writer as follows: the designer . . . wants the design to be
aesthetically pleasing and you want it to be pedagogically effective (contributor
to Prowse, 2011: 161).
Illustrations can also be a source of frustration for writers. If the work is to be
illustrated, writers will be asked to supply the designer with an artwork brief (or
artbrief), a description of what is needed. If this includes photographs, these will
often be sourced from a picture library, and a choice may be offered; if drawings
are required, then one or more illustrators will be involved. The same coursebook
writer comments drily:

. . . any one illustrator can either read or draw. So either s/he reads your artbrief
carefully and takes care to observe it, in order to produce a boring pedestrian
illustration that your seven-year-old could have done; or s/he produces a
wonderful illustration that will really draw your learners in and make the page
striking and attractive . . . but the learners wont be able to do the
corresponding exercise because some of the elements of the illustration are
wrong or missing. . . . You cant assume anything with an illustrator. If you say
desert scene, it is best to specify that there should be no igloos in it. If you
dont and you complain about the igloos in the art rough, you will be told it is
your fault. Learning to write a tight artbrief may be the most difficult subskill
of the EFL writers trade. (anonymous coursebook writer cited in Prowse,
2011: 162)

Ideally, there will be give and take between designers and writers. Sometimes
illustrations may need to be cut in order to allow sufficient space for a series of
linked activities; on other occasions, the reverse may be the case. The criticisms
made in the reviews of Tomlinson et al. (2001) and Masuhara et al. (2008)
suggest that the right balance is not always found.

4.3 The stamp of Ministry approval

Compromise may also be involved when textbooks are required to meet Ministry
of Education approval. In Austria, for example, as Pogelschek (2007) explains,
the state subsidizes textbook purchase (parents pay 10% of the cost) and imposes
a limit on the total amount that school-age learners can be expected to spend on
textbooks each year; publishers therefore have to work within these limits in
pricing their books. As in many other countries, the state also sets criteria which
school textbooks must meet, and requires manuscripts to be submitted for
approval. Walas (2003b) account of preparing a lower secondary school textbook
for approval in Singapore draws attention to the tight deadlines that publishers
often need to work to; in this case, the total time from the publication of the
Ministry syllabus to submission for approval was only one year; approval then
took six months, after which further revisions were required. In the example of
the Austrian publication described by Pogelschek (2007), the process from
submission to preliminary approval involving feedback from Ministry to
publisher, revision and resubmission took nine months. Describing the first ten
years of a textbook project in China, Greenall (2011) writes: we had to submit
the seventeen main coursebooks to the Ministry of Education for approval. About
forty books, including teachers books and supplementary material, had to be
ready for the start of the 2006 school year. It had taken five years to get this far;
he does not say how long it took to approve the books.
Price and time may not be the only issues. In Austria, for instance, according to
Pogelschek, the criteria used in evaluation are relatively open and can therefore be
interpreted subjectively, and members of the evaluation panel, who are nominated
by the Ministry, do not need to have any expertise in textbook evaluation
(p.102). In Indonesia, one of the criteria for the approval of school textbooks is

the content of the books should be in line with and not contradictory to
Pancasila [the state philosophy], UUD 1945 [the 1945 constitution],
Government policies, national unity and security, laws, regulations, ethics, and
that the content not exploit the sensitive issue of SARA (ethnics, religions, race
and intergroup relations). (Supriadi, 1999, cited in Jazadi, 2003: 145)

Among the evaluators are representatives of the Armed Forces Headquarters, the
National Defence Institute and the Office of the Attorney General. Jazadi (2003)
comments: it is impossible to know the bases on which the officials involved
make their judgments, but they may not be overly concerned with pedagogic
issues (p.146).
In China, as Greenall (2011) discovered, some of the criteria for approval are
explicit and others less so:

The Chinese Ministry of Education imposes many requirements on the

grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and the social and cultural content. Our
final course design had to work within these constraints, as well as to have a
storyline, and to be interesting and motivating for the schoolchildren.

As far as vocabulary was concerned, the Ministry had produced a wordlist of

some 3,500 words which needed to be taught and practised. Meeting this
requirement involved trying to write an exciting dialogue for teenagers which
included such disparate words as Ottawa, dumpling, goldfish and shabby. The
writing team also had to take into account Chinese views of what is appropriate in
materials for school children. Greenall notes:

Only positive moral values and role models could be portrayed, respect for
parents and older people is maintained at all costs, and negative feelings about,
for example, upcoming exams is unacceptable. More specifically, there were
certain words which, if we included them in a reading passage, would be
questioned. These included not only the most obvious ones, such as human
rights, Taiwan or God, but also names, places and events. Apparently innocent
(to a westerner) words, such as change, exile, boss, needed to be treated with
care, and even the word communism would have attracted attention to the
context in which it was used.
4.4 The nature of compromise

Compromise can take many forms. From a writers perspective, as we have seen,
this may well be in the area of design, and in particular the constraints of book
length and format. Although writers will normally try to write to agreed length
and format, this is not easy. Overmatter (too much material) means that cuts
have to be made; undermatter (not enough material to fill a page) that more has
to be written. Cuts, especially at a late stage, can be painful for writers. As Bell
and Gower (2011) note, Lack of space caused us great frustration at the editing
stage when we saw many of our practice activities disappear or get pruned. We
had to make a decision whether to cut back on whole activities or cut back on the
number of items within an activity (p.148).
Like Greenall (2011), Bell and Gower (op. cit.) found that they had to avoid
certain topics:

In terms of content we realised we could not please everyone. We did

compromise and not include some texts we would have used with our own
[United Kingdom, private language school] students, on the grounds that they
would not go down well in such and such a country. We did not want to fight
shy of sex and so on, but found ourselves doing so and being expected to do so.
(Bell & Gower, 2011: 149)

This nervousness of taboo subjects can result in material seeming very bland.
Tomlinson et al.s (2001) review came to the conclusion concerning one course
that it was in many ways the stereotypical middle-of-the-road language course
which is unlikely to disturb or delight anybody, and is therefore likely to sell
well (p.94). This situation may be changing. Masuhara et al.s (2008) more
recent review found that some courses do make attempts to include a more
realistic portrayal of life and some controversial or serious topics, such as war and
history, from different perspectives (pp.3001).
Other compromises, for Bell and Gower, related to methodology (where they
had hoped to break away from a traditional presentation-practice-production
approach, but were only able to realize this partially in the lower level
intermediate of their two books) and recordings. Although they compromised
by using actors for some recordings, others were authentic. The response from
some markets outside the United Kingdom was that some of the authentic texts
were too difficult. They reflect: we wonder now whether we should have
compromised more. . . . Perhaps we should have made more of them semi-
scripted or at least made the authentic ones shorter and easier and built in more
how to listen tasks (p.149).
A particular issue for Bell and Gower was how their books would be used.
Their conception was that the materials would be mediated by teachers. They
were therefore reluctant to prescribe methodology by making exercise rubrics too
specific (should you ever say Work in groups when the teacher may want to do
an exercise in pairs, or Write these sentences when the teacher may want the
students to say them?) (p.147). Above all, they saw the materials as a resource to
be used flexibly: it was important that teachers should feel they could move
activities around, cut them out or supplement them according to need, one source
of supplementary materials being the Workbook accompanying the course.
However, feedback revealed that some teachers felt they had to cover everything
in the book in the order presented (ibid.) and that many students would not have
Workbooks. In later editions, they were able to provide additional photocopiable
practice activities in the Teachers Book, thereby putting into practice the
principle of aiming to supply teachers with a resource to help them build up their
programme (p.148, emphasis added).

5. Teachers and learners as end users

5.1 The distance between

Having conducted an analysis of the sales potential of a new book, and been
reassured as to its profitability, an international publisher will try to orient the
book towards the groups and needs identified and focus their marketing efforts
accordingly. There are various difficulties with this approach, however: needs
across the main target markets may vary greatly, or publishers may seek to
increase profits by selling into new markets for which their books were not
primarily intended, or those responsible for ordering books are not fully aware
what they are getting. The result may be that the end users, teacher and learners,
are faced with materials that are palpably inappropriate, as this quotation from
Jolly and Bolitho (2011: 108) illustrates:

Its a very nice book and very lively, but in the section on processes for
example all the exercises are about unusual things for our country. We are a hot
country and also have many Muslims. The exercises are about snow, ice, cold
mornings, water cisterns, writing and publishing EFL books and making wine.
I can tell you I cant do making wine and smoking pot in my country!
(experienced school teacher from the Ivory Coast)

Jolly and Bolitho comment: the further away the author is from the learners, the
less effective the material is likely to be (p.128). The distance referred to here is
not simply physical distance, of course, but experiential and psychological
Wala (2003a) makes the point that in the process of planning and development,
editors and other materials developers must ask the following questions of

How do learners (and teachers) use coursebooks?

How is the coursebook structured for use?

What is the context in which the coursebook will be used?

What dimensions of context have an impact on coursebook use?

Which aspects of the coursebook and its use will be affected by particular
dimensions of the context?
What view of the world, of English, of learning English, of the teacher and
of the learner is presented explicitly and implicitly by the coursebook?
(Wala, 2003a: 623)
Where there is a serious mismatch between context and materials the fault lies
ultimately with whoever decided to purchase the book. Ironically, this is often not
the individual teacher who has to use the book. The teacher from the Ivory Coast
quoted above is clearly a victim of a decision made by someone else. Bell and
Gower (2011: 136) put the blame on misguided management, but also note that
management is frequently encouraged by marketing teams and distributors to
adopt materials which are patently unsuitable, and Masuhara and Tomlinson
(2008) draw attention to the fact that materials sold into markets outside English-
speaking countries may have been piloted in very different (e.g. United Kingdom)
institutions. We might draw an important, if apparently rather obvious, conclusion
from this: that teachers ought to have a voice in deciding which materials are to
be used (a point taken up in later chapters) but that if the decision is taken by
someone else that person needs to be qualified to make an informed judgement.

5.2 Choice

Writing as a publishers editor, Wala (2003a: 59) states that a textbook is a

collection of choices . . . from a variety of options. What she probably means by
this is that a textbook is the result of the multiple decisions made at each stage of
the development process, by publishers, by writers, or by both. However, a rather
different interpretation is that textbooks offer choices, primarily to teachers,
through the suggestions made in the Teachers Book and/or the resources
including, in some cases, linked online resources that are made available.
Although the materials may include components that learners can access
independently (e.g. a grammar reference section or a vocabulary list in the
textbook) learners are not normally offered a choice between different activities
or the opportunity to decide which level of exercise to attempt. However, in Right
Track, Book 1 (Adrian-Vallance & Edge, 1994) teacher and learners are offered
choices between, say, a communicative activity and language awareness work, or
between pronunciation, writing and learning to learn activities (Edge &
Wharton, 1998). Landmark (Haines & Stewart, 2000) also offers choices for
learners in its Speaking Personally sections (Tomlinson et al., 2001); and the
Norwegian English-language textbook New Flight, Book 8 (Bromseth &
Wigdahl, 2006) contains not only supplementary reading texts representing a
higher level of challenge than the core texts intended for all students but also
exercises which are colour coded for difficulty (Lund & Zoughby, 2007). These
are exceptions. In the main, the assumption seems to be that it is the teacher who
will provide the options, and the teacher, in turn, may be relying on the
textbook/Teachers Book for ideas.

5.3 The necessity for teacher creativity

From the textbook writers perspective, as we have seen, it also seems to be a

given that teachers will understand and accept that they cannot just use the
materials as they are. They have to be creative (Bell & Gower, 2011). Cost or
design constraints can limit what is included in the students book. A good
teachers guide will supplement materials with useful alternatives and
adaptations, but where this does not happen or a teacher does not have the
teachers guide, adaptation will become part of the creative dialogue between
teachers and published materials (Islam & Mares, 2003: 135, emphasis added).
The writers original manuscript may also have been pared down to broaden its
suitability. As a consequence, much of the flavour and creativity of the
authors original manuscript may disappear. In using textbooks, therefore,
teachers have to put back some of the creativity that may have been lost in the
process of textbook publication (Richards, 2001: 14, emphasis added).
Bell and Gower (2011) also emphasize the importance of teachers adapting

With international materials it is obvious that the needs of individual students

and teachers, as well as the expectations of particular schools in particular
countries, can never be fully met by the materials themselves. Indeed, most
users seem to accept that what they choose will in many ways be a compromise
and that they will have to adapt the materials to their situation.
. . . In other words, contrary to many current arguments about the inhibiting
role of coursebooks, international course materials can actually encourage
individualisation and teacher creativity rather than the opposite. The better
Teachers Books will . . . suggest pathways . . . and urge teachers to cut, adapt
and supplement the material for their context. Everything depends on the
relationship that a user, in particular a teacher, has or is allowed to have with
the material. Coursebooks are tools which only have life and meaning when
there is a teacher present. They are never intended to be a straitjacket for a
teaching programme in which the teacher makes no decisions to add, to
animate or to delete. The fact that course materials are sometimes treated too
narrowly for example, because of the lack of teacher preparation time, the
excesses of ministry or institution power, the demands of examinations, or the
lack of professional training should not be a reason to write off global
coursebooks. (Bell & Gower, 2011: 1378)

Not everyone would agree that coursebooks . . . only have . . . meaning when a
teacher is present should they not also have meaning for students using them
outside class time? Bell and Gowers main point here, however, is that teachers
have an important role to play in animating the materials (to use their word), in
bringing them to life, making them meaningful and relevant. To do this, they need
to make their own creative decisions about how to use the coursebook, and what
other materials to use, based on their knowledge of their learners. Whether this
actually happens will depend partly on an individual teachers attitude: the
relationship that . . . a teacher . . . has . . . with the material. Does the teacher see
the material as the writers do, as a tool, or treat it more like an instruction manual,
for example, or even a holy book, to be followed faithfully (McGrath, 2006)?
Another factor, of course, as Bell and Gower acknowledge, is that teachers do not
operate in a vacuum (the relationship that . . . a teacher . . . is allowed to have
with the material), a reference to excesses of ministry or institution power. The
constraints under which teachers operate are a central theme of Chapter 8.
We turn now, however, to the professional literature, and the views expressed
there of how teachers might be expected to interact with materials.

The professional literature

There is inevitably a subjective element in textbook selection, but we can seek to

minimise this.
(McGrath, 2002: 53)
. . . a boring book will remain boring if all the teacher does is plod through the
material exactly as it is on the page.
(Prodromou, 2002: 27)

1. Introduction
Chapter 2 dealt with the development of commercial materials from the
perspectives of publishers and textbook writers and the ways in which teachers as
end-users figure in their thinking. In this chapter, the focus shifts more directly to
the teacher. The views expressed here about teachers and materials come from
what might be broadly conceived of as the professional community, which is
made up of all those who actively contribute to debate about the teaching and
learning of English and not just the academic community referred to by Maley
(2001). Many of these contributors occupy more than one role: as teachers but
also textbook writers, or teachers and teacher educators, and some combine all
three of these roles. Teachers who speak at conferences or write for teachers
magazines and journals are also assumed to be a part of this professional
discourse community.
The point was made in Chapter 1 that teachers have two broad responsibilities
in relation to materials: to evaluate them and to (re)design them. As we shall see
in this chapter, the evaluative function is not confined to materials selection. It
also applies at a number of points and in a number of ways in the process of
course delivery. It is therefore relevant to all teachers, including those who have
no influence over the materials they use. Design, similarly, is not a single discrete
stage or operation, but encompasses activity ranging from relatively minor forms
of adaptation, prior to and during lessons, to the creation of whole courses. The
processes of evaluation and design are also logically and practically interrelated:
for example, evaluation may reveal a need which can only be filled by redesign,
and any new design must itself be evaluated, and if necessary further refined. The
general expectation expressed in the professional literature, then, is that teachers
will adopt a critical and creative stance in relation to materials, and that this will
manifest itself in several very specific ways. Section 2 deals with the role of the
teacher in relation to course design, Section 3 with materials selection, and
Section 4 with materials adaptation, a process in which evaluation and design are
inextricably linked. Section 5 focuses on supplementation, that is, the choice or
development of materials to be used alongside a core textbook, and Section 6 on
the design of original materials. Section 7 returns to the theme of evaluation in
this case, in-use and post-use evaluation in the context of the teacher as reflective
practitioner; and Section 8 summarizes the arguments for involving learners in
both materials evaluation and design.

2. The responsibility for course design

A traditional linear course design process, as outlined in Masuhara (2011: 246),
would include five main stages: needs analysis, goals and objectives, syllabus
design, methodology/materials and testing and evaluation. More recent models
tend to be cyclical, consider constraints, and allow for evaluation as distinct
from testing to feed into and modify the model at any of the previous stages
(see, for example, Graves, 1996); moreover, as Graves (1996) points out, these
stages may be more realistically viewed as a framework of components that
overlap both conceptually and temporally (p.5). Masuharas concern, however, is
to draw attention to the difference in the relationship between syllabus design and
materials in the traditional model (Model X) and Model Y, the situation
experienced by many practitioners . . . all over the world (ibid.), which is
described as follows:

First, the teachers and administrators draw up a very general profile of a

particular class and learners. In this profile the characteristics of the learners are
defined in terms of the learners preference for a course and the levels of their
proficiency based on the tests administered at the beginning of the course. The
goal of teaching is usually represented in the name of the course (e.g. First
Certificate Preparation Course, Oral Communication 1).
Materials selection holds a crucial position in the second stage of the course
design sequence; the teachers and administrator select from commercially
available coursebooks the one suitable for the class defined in the initial stage.
The stages such as needs analysis, objectives specification, syllabus design and
selection of methodology which Model X presupposes to happen prior to
materials selection are assumed to have been taken care of by the producers
(e.g. materials writers and publishers). (Masuhara, 2011: 2467)

In this scenario, Masuhara argues, early crucial stages (needs analysis and
objectives specification) of the course design in Model X have been allowed to
pass from the hands of teachers and administrators to materials producers or, as
Byrd (2001) puts it, when no clearly articulated curriculum aims have been
formulated, the book is allowed to shape the design of the course. There is
widespread agreement in the literature that responsibility for course design cannot
be delegated to a textbook, however comprehensive that textbook may appear to
be. Now it can be argued that in many contexts textbooks are written to suit a
Ministry syllabus and that since public examinations are based on this syllabus
there is no reason (or freedom) for teachers to do anything other than conform to
it, or its embodiment in the form of a national textbook or an approved textbook.
However, syllabus documents embody general expectations about what will be
taught, not how learning objectives will be achieved; moreover, they make no
allowance for local conditions. It falls to the teachers within an institution,
therefore, to plan courses which are based on the official syllabus but also take
into account learners existing knowledge, needs, wants and likely rate of
progress. The selection of suitable materials then becomes a stage in the course
design process rather than dictating the design. Yalden (1987) expresses the
consensus view: A syllabus should be, in the first instance, a statement about
content, and only in the later stage of development, a statement about
methodology and materials (p.87) (see also, Johnson, 1989; Graves, 2000;
Woodward, 2001; McGrath, 2002; McDonough & Shaw, 2003).
The degree to which teachers are willing or able to take an active role in
planning courses will depend in large measure on their attitudes, training and
experience. The same considerations will also affect the extent to which the
materials control what goes on in the classroom. As Byrd (1995b) points out:

Some teachers seem to have few techniques for analyzing the resources offered
them by textbooks. Some teachers simply start at the front of the text and teach
as much of the book as they can in the time allowed by a course. Other teachers
report bafflement over making choices among sets of exercises. Still other
teachers seem bemused if not amused by the suggestion that they should read a
textbook all the way through prior to teaching from it. (p.7)

Graves (1996) has argued that the kinds of decision-making involved in planning
and teaching lessons are actually a microversion of planning and teaching
courses: A teachers expertise at the level of planning and teaching lessons is
thus both part of and similar to the overall process of course development (p.4).
This apparently simple analogy is actually hugely important because it suggests
that experienced teachers already have the basic expertise to design courses. In
institutions where course design is delegated to the book, this expertise is not
tapped, the inexperienced are left to their own devices and the situation described
by Byrd prevails. Where the truth of Gravess statement is recognized, course
design is by contrast a dynamic, democratic and professionally enriching process.

3. Materials selection

3.1 The materials evaluation cycle

Much of what has been written about materials evaluation deals with coursebooks
and most of what has been written about coursebook evaluation is broadly
concerned with processes and criteria which can help the evaluator decide
whether a coursebook is likely to be suitable for a particular context of use. Ellis
(1997) makes an important distinction between this kind of pre-use or predictive
evaluation and post-use or what he calls retrospective evaluation, that is,
evaluation based on experience of having used a book or other materials and
assessing the effects. Other writers have argued that there is also a need to
evaluate materials while they are being used (in-use evaluation or whilst-use
evaluation see, for example, McGrath, 2002 and Masuhara, 2011). McGrath
(2002, chapters 1 and 9) presents a cyclical approach in which the data gathered
at each stage pre-use evaluation, in-use evaluation and post-use evaluation
feeds into the next stage and may ultimately lead to the modification of the
evaluation process itself.
Materials selection (predictive evaluation) is discussed in Section 3.3 with
particular reference to the selection of coursebooks, and in-use and post-use
evaluation in Section 7.3. First, however, we turn to the difference between
materials analysis and evaluation.

3.2 Materials analysis and context analysis

3.2.1 Materials analysis

Materials analysis is concerned with getting inside a book (Graves, 2000),
discovering what is there (Littlejohn, 2011). As the term suggests, its purpose is
descriptiveanalytical rather than evaluative. Its importance lies in the fact that
beyond the most basic level, the concern is to understand what assumptions and
beliefs lie beneath the surface and what effects can be anticipated (McGrath,
2002: 22). It may, of course, be a preliminary to evaluation, both when selecting
materials and prior to using them.
Littlejohn (2011) proposes an analysis at three levels:
1 What is there (objective description)
2 What is required of users (subjective analysis): focus on tasks, their content,
what the learner is expected to do and who with
3 What is implied (subjective inference): deducing aims, principles of
selection and sequence, teacher and learner roles and demands on the
learners process competence (i.e. ability to draw on knowledge, skills,
abilities and attitudes.)

(based on Littlejohn, 2011: 185)

When materials selection is the main concern, such a process offers, Littlejohn
argues, a thorough means of testing the claims made by publishers and textbook
writers. It might also serve, he notes, other purposes: for instance, to identify the
causes of dissatisfaction with existing materials, and as a form of continuing
professional development, especially when teachers are developing their own

3.2.2 Context analysis

Materials analysis is, of course, only one of the types of analysis that need to
precede textbook evaluation, the other being context analysis. Context analysis
involves consideration of the macro context (factors relating to, for example, the
role of English in the country and its language policy, the syllabus, examinations,
cultural and religious considerations) and the micro context where the materials
will be used (factors relating to the institution, course, teachers and learners) see
McGrath (2002) for an overview of macro and micro factors which draws on
various sources. Graves (2000) differentiates clearly between analysis of
materials (in this case, a textbook) and context analysis, but also explains why
textbook analysis is also desirable after a textbook has been selected:

There are two facets to understanding how to use a textbook. The first is the
textbook itself: getting inside it so you can understand how it is constructed
and why. The second is everything other than the textbook: the context, the
students, and you, the teacher. The second facet is important, because when
you evaluate a textbook, you generally use the lenses of your experience and
context to evaluate it, and I think it is important to be aware of those lenses.
The first facet, getting inside the textbook, is important so that you know what
you are adapting or supplementing. The second facet helps you to be clear
about what you are adapting it to. (p.176)
3.3 Selecting a coursebook

The importance of choosing an appropriate coursebook was emphasized in

Chapter 1 (Section 3.3.1). However, in many situations teachers do not
themselves choose the coursebooks they use. Byrd (2001) points out that while
teachers at the tertiary level in the United States of America and elsewhere can
often determine the materials to be used, in other settings selection decisions may
be taken by administrators or committees; and in centralized systems there may
be a requirement to use a national textbook series, thus precluding choice
altogether. Nevertheless, teachers can sometimes influence the decision-making
process. [This] is not just a matter of pedagogical knowledge but also of political
skill (Byrd, 2001: 416). No advice is given on how to acquire the political skills
referred to, but the pedagogical knowledge needed to contribute to informed
textbook selection is certainly available in the professional literature, as we shall
see in the remainder of this section.

3.3.1 Methods
A number of writers have argued for a two-stage approach to coursebook
selection. Given the pressures typically operating in educational institutions, this
may seem a luxury. However, when several possible coursebook packages are
being assessed, if the least suitable materials can be quickly discarded or filtered
out at the first stage, this allows more time for closer scrutiny of fewer materials
in the second stage (Grant, 1987; McGrath, 2002).
Suggestions for the first stage are similarly motivated, but differ somewhat in
their details and have distinctive labels applied to them by their originators. They
include the flick test (Matthews, 1985), involving a quick flick through the
materials to assess their overall attractiveness and likely appeal to learners;
impressionistic overview (Cunningsworth, 1995) based on surveying the
publishers blurb on the back cover, the contents page, and then a quick skim
through the book taking in organization, topics, layout and visuals; and external
evaluation (McDonough and Shaw, 2003) focusing on the back cover, publishers
blurb, introduction and table of contents. First-glance evaluation (McGrath,
2002) combines a set of Yes/No questions and a flowchart procedure (pp.33, 37);
and the CATALYST test (Grant, 1987), in which the acronym stands for
Communicative? Aims? Teachability? Available add-ons? Student interest? Tried
and Tested? (p.119), requires rather more judgement, and therefore more time.
The method most frequently advocated for the second stage, involving a closer
scrutiny, is that of the checklist. Checklists are a means of making evaluation
criteria explicit, thereby providing a common framework for decision-making;
they ensure that systematic attention is paid to all aspects considered to be
important; and information is recorded in a manner that is cost effective and in a
format that is convenient for purposes of comparison (McGrath, 2002: 267).
Cost effectiveness and convenience in particular are merely potential strengths, of
course. Whether a particular checklist actually realizes this potential will depend
on its format (see Section 3.3.3, below).
The best known published checklists are probably the following: Tucker
(1975), Cunningsworth (1979, 1984), Daoud and Celce-Murcia (1979), Williams,
D. (1983), Matthews (1985), Breen and Candlin (1987), Grant (1987), Sheldon
(1988), Skierso (1991), Ur (1996) and Harmer (1991). The most detailed of these
is Skierso (1991), although Cunningsworth (1995) contains checklists relating to
a variety of aspects. Other examples include Bruder (1978), Haycraft (1978),
Williams, R. (1981), Byrd and Celce-Murcia (2001) and Brown (2007) an
adaptation of Robinett (1978). McElroy (1934) is an interesting example of an
early checklist (or what he calls a score card). Checklists accessible online
include Peacock (1997a) and Garinger (2002). Coleman (1985), Cunningsworth
and Kusel (1991) and Gearing (1999) all focus specifically on Teachers Guides
see also Skierso (1991). Extracts from a number of checklists can be found in
McGrath (2002). Ansary and Babaii (2002), Riazi (2003), Mukundan and Ahour
(2010) and Karamoozian and Riazi (nd) all review checklists from different
periods. Gomes de Matos (2000) argues for interdisciplinary checklists.

3.3.2 Criteria
Checklists intended for detailed evaluation are typically organized into a number
of sections which correspond to major areas of focus. For example, that of Grant
(1987) contains 30 specific questions (or microcriteria) organized under three
more general questions (or macrocriteria): Does the book suit your students?,
Does the book suit the teacher? and Does the book suit the syllabus and the
examination?; and that of Byrd (2001) similarly focuses on the fit between
materials and (1) curriculum (2) students and (3) teachers. Garinger (2002)
contains four categories: (1) program and course (2) skills (3) exercises and
activities and (4) practical concerns; and Richards (2001b) suggests five: (1)
programme factors: reflecting the concerns of the programme (2) teacher factors:
reflecting teachers concerns (3) learner factors: reflecting learners concerns (4)
content factors: concerned with content and organization and (5) pedagogical
factors: concerned with method and the design of activities and exercise types.
Many checklists allocate categories to specific aspects of language, differentiating
between language skills (e.g. speaking, writing) and language systems (e.g.
grammar, pronunciation) and include a catch-all category headed Practical
considerations or General to cover considerations such as price, durability and
availability if these have not been assessed by a stage 1 checklist. For many
checklist designers, this kind of conceptual mapping is a convenient starting point
for more detailed thinking about specific criteria, but a reverse operation, working
from beliefs and specific criteria, has also been advocated (Tomlinson, 1999).
One problem with the criteria developed at a particular point in time is that they
may not be entirely appropriate some years later, as one can see if one compares
checklists produced in the 1970s, say, with those developed in the 1990s (for
discussion, see Riazi, 2003 and Mukundan & Ahour, 2010; and for examples,
McGrath, 2002). Contexts also differ, of course. What this means, in broad terms,
is that different criteria will apply in different circumstances (Cunningsworth,
1995: 2). We cannot simply take an existing checklist and reuse it without careful
scrutiny as to its relevance. Tomlinson and Masuhara (2004: 9) emphasize, for
example, the need to consider local factors, which in addition to the kinds of
institutional and learner/teacher-specific factors likely to be included in any
checklist might include the need to prepare learners for examinations and the
availability of target-language exposure outside the classroom environment. They
also point out that the range of materials which form a part of modern coursebook
packages argues for the inclusion of criteria relating to each of these elements (i.e.
media-specific criteria), and Bahumaid (2008) makes the rather similar point that
different criteria are likely to be relevant to the evaluation of a conversation skills
book, say, as compared to a coursebook. Examples of more narrowly targeted
checklists include Ioannou-Georgiou (2002) for software, Karamoozian and Riazi
(nd) for reading skills books and Reinders and Lewis (2006) for self-access
Roberts (1996), in the course of an admirably cool and incisive look at
checklists, observes that contexts are so different that there is only academic
interest in checklist comparison. While some of the criteria they embody may be
relevant to ones own teaching/learning situation, perhaps their most valuable
aspect is that they stimulate thought about the system of evaluation and the modus
operandi to be adopted (p.381). Let us turn, therefore, to systems and modus

3.3.3 Format and processes

Ease of use and economy of time and effort are key considerations in both stages,
but particularly so at Stage 1, if a two-stage procedure is adopted. On this basis,
McGrath (2002, in press), for example, argues for a limited number of Yes/No
questions and a flowchart process in which there is an option to exit if one or
more key criteria are not met.
More generally, format concerns the following:

whether the checklist contains an introductory section in which basic

information (e.g. author(s), publisher, date of publication, components,
price) is recorded
whether it is intended to be used for the evaluation of a single book/package
or comparison
whether it is intended to be self-explanatory or accompanied by notes
explaining criteria
how criteria are framed (e.g. in the form of statements or questions)

whether criteria are grouped into sections

if questions are used, whether these are closed or open

the form of response (e.g. Yes/No or other fixed verbal response; number on
a scale; free verbal response)
whether additional comments are encouraged

whether results can be quantified (e.g. by adding up numbers).

In most situations, comparison will be involved and, as noted above, economy in

terms of evaluator time and effort will be important factors. Although the
presence or absence of specific elements can be assessed using a Yes/No format,
judgements of quality require a scale. These considerations argue for a closed-
response numerical format (i.e. a rating scale). Individual criteria can also be
weighted using another scale to allow for distinctions to be made between criteria
felt to be more/less important. Subtotalling of section scores facilitates easy
comparison of different sets of materials across sections as well as indicating
relative strengths and weaknesses. Space for comments at the end of subsections
allows respondents to explain their responses or draw attention to features not
covered by the criteria. Both rating and weighting scales are used by, for example,
Tucker (1975), Daoud and Celce-Murcia (1979), Williams (1983) and Skierso
(1991), though Tucker uses the term rating for what others have called
weighting. There is critical discussion of various aspects of format in Roberts
(1996) and McGrath (2002).
Issues of format are essentially technical: they are concerned with arriving at a
design which is fit for purpose. Logically, decisions about format should follow
discussion of criteria (Section 3.3.2), and just as decisions about criteria need to
take account of what those who will use the materials (teachers and learners) want
from them so too decisions about checklist format need to take account of those
who will use the checklist and the processes involved.
Similar criteria apply to the design of checklist criteria as to the design of any
research questionnaire. For example, each item should be framed in such a way
that only one concept or proposition is addressed, that its meaning is transparent
and that the response format is appropriate. Issues with any of these have an
impact on reliability. In order to achieve economy in checklist design but
overcome any possible problems with transparency, the designers of some
materials evaluation checklists have felt the need to provide additional briefing
notes to try to ensure that respondents fully understand what is intended. Within
an institution, a Key of this kind is useful as a point of reference, but an
introductory discussion of the need for systematic materials evaluation and the
approach proposed is likely to be both preferred and more effective than simply
presenting a fait accompli. If criteria have already been specified in a prior stage,
this can be followed by consideration of how individual criteria should be
weighted (a possibly lengthy process, but one which would encourage teacher
buy-in) and followed by a practice session with materials already in use or
known to the teachers. Any widely divergent responses would reveal any obvious
remaining differences in understanding of key concepts and, following
clarification, checklist items, format or briefing notes could be tweaked to
eliminate these. Daoud and Celce Murcia (1979) have suggested that materials
under consideration be assessed by three experienced teachers; others favour the
involvement of all teachers who will use the materials (for further discussion, see,
for example, Skierso, 1991; Chambers, 1997; McGrath, 2002).

3.4 Lesson planning and materials evaluation

Lesson planning also involves materials evaluation. Whether planning a series of

lessons or a single lesson, teachers take account of learners current knowledge
and skills, the desired level of knowledge and skills (as described in a syllabus,
for example) and the materials available (which will often include a textbook).
Experienced teachers also draw on their experience (of teaching, of teaching
similar learners, of using the materials). While some will refer to copies of
previous lesson plans which they have annotated to show how well activities
worked and what modifications they made to procedures and timing, others may
rely on a few scribbled notes and some on just a mental plan. In contrast,
inexperienced teachers are advised to make a detailed written plan. Senior (2006)
distinguishes between this latter kind of planning and the preparation more
characteristic of experienced teachers.
Whatever form it takes, lesson planning involves consideration of the kinds of
input and activity needed to achieve the desired learning outcomes and how these
should be sequenced. When a teacher is working with a coursebook, the teacher
will evaluate the book for its potential to contribute to the learning outcomes (see,
for example, Acklam, 1994 and Byrd, 2001, for checklists of some of the general
questions that might guide an interrogation of the material). This evaluative
scrutiny will lead to decisions concerning what can be used without any kind of
change, what not to use, what should be replaced, and what needs to be changed.
If, following this process, the teacher decides that supplementary resources (e.g.
material from other books, authentic texts or online sources) will be needed, the
same set of evaluative decisions would logically be repeated in relation to these
resources. Sections 4 and 5 discuss these processes in more detail.
That is not the end of evaluation as far as lesson planning is concerned. Lesson
plans are, after all, not set in stone. Harmer (2007) makes the point that teachers
should not pursue a planned activity simply because it is in the plan (p.367).
Plans have to be evaluated and, if necessary, modified in the course of
implementation, as well as at a less pressured point after the lesson (see Section
7.3); and where the plan or the improvised plan involves materials adaptation, the
appropriateness or otherwise of the adaptation needs to form part of that

4. Adaptation

4.1 Defining adaptation

The consensus in the professional literature seems to be that whenever teachers
working with a coursebook or other material omit something, add something or
change something, they are adapting those materials. This may be a useful
starting point for discussions of adaptation, but a more helpful definition one
that could be used to analyse or guide teachers practice would need to answer
the following four questions:

Why should we adapt?

The answer that emerges from the literature is that coursebooks are
written for everyone and therefore no one, and the same point can be
made of any published materials. Adaptation is thus an attempt to tailor
materials so that they are a better match for a specific learning context
(see Sections 4.2 and 4.3).

What should we adapt?

Anything (language, level, context, content, procedure) see Section 4.4.
Graves (2000) points out that much of what has been written about
adaptation is at the level of the activity and therefore rather narrow, and
that teachers also adapt at the levels of unit and syllabus. Where new
material is added, this will be treated as supplementation (Section 5).

How should we adapt?

A general answer would be the one given above: by omitting, adding or
changing. A more specific answer would explain what adding and
changing mean in operational terms (see Section 4.5). It would also
make reference to the principles influencing particular decisions (see
Section 4.6). Some forms of adaptation require very little effort; others
involve time, knowledge and skill.

When should we adapt?

Adaptation can be both a part of lesson planning (proactive) or an
instinctive response while a lesson is in progress (reactive). With
experience, teachers may become better at reactive adaptation, but
teacher education can open their eyes to the range of proactive
possibilities open to them (Sections 4.5 and 4.6) and thereby help them to
plan more effective lessons.

4.2 The importance of adaptation

The importance of adaptation is widely acknowledged. Richards (2001b: 5)

states: The ability to . . . adapt commercial materials . . . is an essential skill for
teachers to develop, and Prodromou (2002) points out:

A textbook does not teach itself . . . It is the teacher, in collaboration with the
class, who brings the material to life. . . . a book that is considered mediocre for
whatever reason can be transformed into motivating material by an enthusiastic
and imaginative teacher but a boring book will remain boring if all the teacher
does is plod through the material exactly as it is on the page. (p.27)

For Islam and Mares (2003), adaptation is necessary even when the coursebook is
appropriate for the context:

In many cases, the teacher using published materials in any given classroom is
not involved with creating the materials and may have little to do with adopting
the materials for her institution. However, even when the classroom teacher
selects the book, knows every student in the class well, and is using materials
designed specifically for the context they are in, she will still have to adapt the
materials either consciously or subconsciously. (Islam & Mares, 2003: 86,
emphasis added)

The belief that teachers at least experienced and good teachers do adapt
materials is also widespread, and can be supported by observational evidence.
Hutchinson and Torres (1994: 325) refer to two teachers in Torress PhD study, at
that time in preparation:

. . . teachers and learners do not follow the textbook script. Most often teachers
follow their own scripts by adapting or changing textbook-based tasks, adding
new tasks or deleting some, changing the management of the tasks, changing
task inputs or expected outputs, and so on. Moreover, what is also clear from
the study is that the teachers planned task is reshaped and reinterpreted by the
interaction of teacher and learners during the lesson.

Islam and Mares (2003) make a similar distinction between pre-planned and
spontaneous adaptation: Whether pre-planned or spontaneous, materials
adaptation is an integral part of the success of any class (p.86).
Some commentators refer to good rather than experienced teachers, perhaps
implying that experience does not of itself lead to this kind of responsive, creative
teaching. Madsen and Bowen (1978: vii), for example, say: The good teacher is
constantly adapting, and their depiction of such a teacher neatly captures the
intricate negotiation involved: The good teacher is . . . constantly striving for
congruence among several related variables: teaching materials, methodology,
students, course objectives, the target language and its context, and the teachers
own personality and teaching style (p.ix). The influence of the teachers own
preferred teaching style is also recognized by, for example, Senior (2006) and
Richards (2001b).

No matter what form of materials teachers make use of, whether they teach
from textbooks, institutional materials, or teacher-prepared materials, they
represent plans for teaching. . . . As teachers use materials, they adapt and
transform them to suit the needs of particular groups of learners and their own
teaching styles. These processes of transformation are at the heart of good
teaching and enable good teachers to create effective lessons out of the
resources they make use of. (p.16)

4.3 The purpose of adaptation

Adaptation, it is generally agreed, helps to make materials meaningful and

interesting for learners. Saraceni (2003: 77) states that the purpose of adaptation is
to render materials more relevant and effective; and Prodromou (2002) provides
examples to show how adaptation can cater for heterogeneity and bring materials
to life by making tasks more engaging, achievable, memorable (p.29). As
Madsen and Bowen (1978) point out, adaptation is not necessarily a form of
criticism of a text: even when a text[book] is well written, it may not be
completely compatible with the instrumental aims, student level, or teaching style
in a given school or classroom (p.viii).
McGrath (2002) summarizes the purposes of adaptation as follows:

1. To make the material more suitable for the circumstances in which it is being
used, i.e. to mould it to the needs and interests of learners, the teachers own
capabilities and such constraints as time, or, as McDonough and Shaw (1993:
85) put it: to maximize the appropriacy of teaching materials in context, by
changing some of the internal characteristics of a coursebook to suit our
particular circumstances better;
2. To compensate for any intrinsic deficiencies in the material, such as
linguistic inaccuracies, out-of-datedness, lack of authenticity (Madsen &
Bowen 1978) or lack of variety (Tice, 1991). (p.64)

The circumstances in which the material is being used include, of course, the
macro environment and the micro environment of the institution (syllabus, tests,
course features) referred to earlier. By maximizing the appropriacy of materials,
McGrath adds, we can hope to stimulate learner motivation, which in turn will
lead to a classroom atmosphere more conducive to learning (ibid.).

4.4 Focus

Adaptation typically focuses on any one or any combination of the following:

language (the language of instructions, explanations, examples, the

language in exercises and texts and the language learners are expected to
process (forms of classroom management or interaction stated explicitly in
the instructions for exercises, activities and tasks, but also the learning styles
content (topics, contexts, cultural references)

level (linguistic and cognitive demands on the learner).

In relation to language, for example, adaptation would have three main concerns:
to ensure that learners are exposed to samples of language which are accurate, up-
to-date, authentic and relevant and that can therefore serve as models for their
own production; that this input language is at a level which is appropriate for
learners; and that exercises and activities provide opportunities for learners to use
language which is likely to be useful to them. Adaptation related to language,
carrier content or classroom management (whether an exercise is written or
spoken, for example, or done individually or in pairs) all stem from a teachers
judgement of what is best in a particular set of circumstances for a particular
group of learners. Groups are composed of individuals, however, and a
recognition of the need to cater for individual differences lies behind forms of
adaptation focusing on both process and level.
4.5 Procedures

One of the simplest descriptions of adaption techniques is offered by

Cunningsworth (1995), who states that teachers leave out, add, replace and
change. However, as will be evident from Table 3.1, other writers use a headache-
inducing variety of alternative terms and categorizations. Leave out is not only
paraphrased as omit, delete and reject, but distinctions are made within this
category (reduce, subtract, abridge) and within that of addition (extend, expand,
extemporize, exploit). Changes in order or organization are variously described as
reordering/reorganizing/restructuring/resequencing, and other forms of change
are either listed as separate techniques (e.g. replacement) or grouped together
according to the writers individual preference (see, for example, Richards,
2001a; McGrath, 2002).
Establishing what is common in all this diversity may be difficult, but it is not
an idle academic exercise. As noted in Chapter 1, we might expect that all
teachers, as they gain in experience and confidence, will adapt in minor ways.
However, many may need to be made aware that other forms of adaptation are
also desirable and, where expertise and time are likely to be needed, persuaded
and helped to acquire that expertise, either within their institutions or as part of a
teacher education programme. Achieving consistency of terminology may be
difficult, but we need to be able to at least describe the adaptation techniques that
can be used. What follows is an attempt to provide such a description based on
three basic categories omission, addition and change, and a limited number of

Table 3.1 Adaptation procedures: Same or different?

Omission refers to the decision:

not to use a whole component of the material (McDonough & Shaws

quantitative subtracting and qualitative abridging; Tomlinson & Masuharas
not to use part of a component (subtraction, as defined by McDonough &
Shaw and Tomlinson & Masuhara)
not to use material in class, but to set it as homework (McGrath no
specific term suggested).
Addition can take at least six different forms:

examples, explanations, paraphrases offered spontaneously in response to a

predicted or perceived learner problem (McGraths extemporization)
more practice or test items of the same kind (McGraths extension)

increase in the length, depth or difficulty of a text or activity (Tomlinson &

Masuharas expansion)
creative use of the material in ways not intended by the writer (McGraths
exploitation and perhaps Maleys extension)
the provision of alternatives to an existing activity or different pathways
through the materials (Maleys branching)
new material (e.g. text, activity) (McDonough & Shaws expansion,
Tomlinson & Masuharas addition).
Three major types of change (or modification) have been identified:

rearrangement: typically involving resequencing


rewriting: including both minor and more ambitious changes.

For a fuller discussion, see McGrath (in press).

4.6 Examples of adaptation

Examples not only offer some relief from analytical discussion, they are also a
way of testing the adequacy of the conceptual frameworks that are proposed.
Here, then, are two examples which may serve both purposes. They concern the
handling of dialogues.

Example 1
When a recording of a coursebook dialogue is not available, a teacher may feel
obliged to read the text aloud. Graves (2003) recalls a colleague who made
ingenious use of a plastic bow to indicate whether the speaker was female (bow
held in hair) or male (bow held to throat to simulate bow tie); an alternative, as
she notes, is to use glove puppets.

Example 2
Appel (1995) describes his own use of glove puppets as follows:

I occasionally did my own dialogues. All it required was reading the dialogue
in the book, checking on the new words, and two glove puppets known to the
class under the names Tony and Ilona. Tony and Ilona became our companions.
They were good fun for everybody because they could say all the things
authors and editors of nationally used textbooks would never dare to put into a
dialogue. (Appel, 1995: 119)

Example 1 conjures up, for me, a vivid mental image of a jolly-looking male
teacher skipping to and fro to represent the two characters and deftly switching
his brightly coloured plastic bow from hair to throat; and Example 2 conjures up a
picture of the two mischievous puppets apparently chatting with each other,
perhaps even about the teacher, and bright-faced children hanging on every word.
These are the kinds of fun-filled moments that can make the language of a
textbook much more memorable for the students concerned. On a more mundane
note, Example 1 is an illustration of adaptation as change (specifically, what
McDonough and Shaw (2003) call restructuring and McGrath (2002) refers to as
a change in procedure). Example 2, on the other hand, seems to be closer to what
McDonough and Shaw term rewriting (also a form of change), but for McGrath
(2002) would be exploitation (a form of addition). Further examples to provide
more light relief or to test the framework can be found in, for example,
Mosback (1984), Grant (1987), Graves (2000, chapter 9) and McGrath (2002,
chapter 4).

4.7 Principles

The changes made to materials in the process of adaptation are usually justified
by reference to one or more principles. The principles most often referred to or
implied are summarized below.
Materials need to:

be perceived as relevant by learners (localization)

be up-to-date (modernization)
cater for differences in learning styles (individualization)

encourage learners to speak/write about themselves and their own

experiences (personalization)
engage the whole person (humanizing)

be appropriate to learners level/offer an appropriate level of challenge

be varied (variety).

4.7.1 Localization
On the face of it, localization applies particularly to the use of global materials
and to two aspects of these: the language syllabus(es) and the cultural content. As
noted earlier, an expectation expressed in the professional literature is that
teachers will make materials-related decisions on the basis of their assessment of,
inter alia, learners needs. It therefore follows that if using published materials,
they will (1) use only those parts of the materials that they judge to be relevant
and (2) provide additional materials if they feel the published materials are
inadequate. McDonough and Shaw (2003) use the example of pronunciation
coverage in a global textbook to illustrate both of these processes. The materials
provide systematic coverage of a range of potential pronunciation problems (e.g.
vowel contrasts, voiced/voiceless contrasts, phonemes), and the teacher working
with a monolingual group in a specific context applies the principle of what we
might call linguistic localization when they (1) choose not to deal with phoneme
contrasts that are not problematic for their students and (2) provide additional
practice of those phonemes or phoneme contrasts if that provided by the book
seems insufficient. The same principle would obviously apply to other aspects of
the language.
As far as cultural content is concerned, it seems to be widely accepted that
learners should be able to relate to contexts, content and characters in materials. It
has therefore been suggested that teachers using global materials which contain
culturally unfamiliar, alien or inappropriate elements should according to what
we might call the principle of cultural localization replace these with local
equivalents. At the level of an example or an exercise, replacement might simply
involve substituting one noun (e.g. name of fruit, vegetable, animal, sport) for
another or one place name with another. The same principle applies to pictures of
people or places and maps which are used as the basis for practice. An alternative
option may be omission, but in the case of spoken and written texts which carry
language important for the syllabus but deal with or refer to topics felt to be
inappropriate this is not really possible and finding or creating suitable
replacement material may not be very easy.
Practicalities and cultural taboos apart, the whole concept of relevance and
cultural localization is somewhat problematic because it assumes that teachers are
in a position to make judgments for their students. If all reference to people,
places and events outside students experience is to be replaced or deleted, does
this not deprive students of information and knowledge that might possibly be of
interest or value to them? A thoughtful compromise suggested by Altan (1995) is
that while input might include reference to the wider world, student output (i.e.
what students are asked to say or write) might focus on the world they know.

4.7.2 Modernization
Compared to some of the principles included in this section, modernization
appears relatively unproblematic. It refers to change in either of two aspects of
materials: language where this appears not to reflect current usage and can
therefore no longer serve as a model for student production; and content
whether, for example, illustrations, facts and topics seem inaccurate or
inappropriate because they are old-fashioned. Minor language points can be dealt
with by a brief teacher comment, and out-of-date content can be replaced (by
teacher or learners) or used as a focus for class discussion.

4.7.3 Individualization
McDonough and Shaw (1993: 87) define individualization as addressing the
learning styles both of individuals and of the members of a class working
together. On a simple level, this just involves teachers ensuring that activities are
not always conducted in the same way. Students might also appreciate being
offered what Maley (2011) calls branching choices for instance, as to whether
they work individually or in pairs/small groups, or the form in which they present
their work on a task (a cartoon strip, a role play, a written narrative).

4.7.4 Personalization
Personalization is a form of materials exploitation in which the student is
encouraged to engage with the material on an individual, personal level. Graves
(2003) offers a simple example: I remember observing a high school French
teacher teach telephone numbers using the examples in the textbook. The students
were bored and inattentive. By simply asking them to use their own telephone
numbers, she would have made the material more relevant and motivating
(p.235). Prodromou (2002) illustrates the concept by comparing the use of the
same (invented) textbook example by a teacher (characterized as Mr Plodder)
who does no more than work through the text as it is with what a more
imaginative teacher (Miss Spark) might do with the same material. The invented
text is in the form of a leaflet taken from a British department store which
illustrates, describes and gives prices for household appliances such as irons and
cookers. Whereas Mr Plodder works through the text, asking the accompanying
comprehension questions and explaining any difficult words, Miss Spark begins
with a pre-reading warm-up, asking learners to picture the rooms in their own flat
or house, make a note of the household appliances they contain, and then decide
which were most and least expensive. Essentially, then, personalization enables
students to draw on their own experience in order to express ideas in the target
language. As Woodward (2001: 57) suggests: students can write or speak about
how the stimulus is similar to or different from them, what the stimulus reminds
them of, if they have ever . . ., what they would do if . . ., etc..

4.7.5 Humanizing
Tomlinson (2003b) explains the need for humanizing coursebooks as follows:
Ive suffered countless . . . coursebooks (including some Ive written myself)
which have needed humanizing because they didnt engage the learners I was
using them with and because they didnt manage to connect with the learners
lives (p.163). The purpose of humanizing, then, is to enable learners to explore
their capacity for learning through meaningful experience through helping them
to connect what is in the book with what is in their minds (ibid.). Meaningful
experience would include opportunities to learn through doing things physically,
to learn through feeling emotion, to learn through experiencing things in the
mind, being involved intellectually, aesthetically and emotionally (p.162).
Tomlinsons examples of humanizing a coursebook include getting students to
draw a version of a coursebook text, produce an extended version of a text using a
local context, and writing inner speech monologues of the characters in a
coursebook dialogue (pp.1656). See also Rinvolucri (2002).

4.7.6 Simplification/complexification/differentiation
Simplification patently refers to attempts to make materials easier for learners;
complexification to increasing the level of difficulty; and differentiation to
catering for learner differences typically in proficiency level, although the term
can also cover differences in learning style (see individualization, above) and
multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983, 1999). As regards simplification,
McDonough and Shaw (2003) and Tomlinson (1998b) both warn against the
simplistic assumption that the omission of difficult words and phrases will
necessarily make a text easier to understand, and Darian (2001) provides a brief,
illustrated discussion of simplification in relation to specific language features.
The examples he gives of abridgement, which involve deletion and some
paraphrase, also raise issues concerning the relationship between information
deletion and the purpose of and audience for a message. Prodromou (1990) and
McGrath (1994) describe techniques for providing an appropriate level of
challenge for learners with, respectively, different levels of proficiency and
confidence (see also Hubbard, Jones & Wheeler, 1983; Prodromou, 1992b; Tice,

4.7.7 Variety
One of the criticisms of coursebooks noted in Chapter 1 was their unrelenting
repetitiveness (Harmer, 2001). Graves (2000) points out that students need both
the security of repetition and variety. Their need for security can be met by using
the same procedure for listening activities, for example, for some time, but once
they are familiar with this procedure interest can be added by occasionally
varying it. Tice (1991), who complains of the textbook straitjacket, suggests a
number of ways of introducing variety.

4.7.8 Principles, practice and theory

The dividing lines between some of these principles are perhaps a little blurred.
Individualization, in particular, might be subsumed under differentiation (with its
broader meaning) or humanizing. As more accounts of adaptation are published,
these lines may become clearer, the list of principles may expand or principles
may be combined. Islam and Mares (2003: 89), commenting on the four
principles listed in McDonough and Shaw (1993) localization, personalization,
individualization and modernization suggest what they see as further objectives
of adaptation. These include add real choice (by allowing learners to choose
how they want to learn Style matching or try a different approach to learning
style stretching); cater for sensory learner styles; and provide for more learner
autonomy. All of these might conceivably form part of a fully thought-out
commitment to individualization or differentiation in its broader meaning;
catering for sensory learner styles also echoes Tomlinsons description of
humanizing. The same kinds of categorization issues are raised by Helgesens
(nd) argument for adapting activities to incorporate opportunities for learners to
plan what they will say/write. Helgesens examples, which cater for different
sensory styles in the ways suggested by Islam and Mares, include mind mapping,
guided visualization, drawing pictures of events (real or imaginary) prior to
talking about them and mental rehearsal (think first about content, then about
form). The advantages, it is claimed, are reflected in increased fluency,
complexity and accuracy. Is the planning-stage principle underlying Helgesens
suggestion novel or are his ideas simply examples of the kinds of expansion or
extension discussed earlier in relation to adaptation as addition? Saraceni (2003)
has pointed out that adapting materials seems to be a relatively underresearched
process (p.73), and one has to agree. The examples given above are a helpful
reminder that practice and theory can form part of a virtuous circle that begins at
either point: principles can and should be derived from practice as well as from

4.8 Summary and conclusion

At the end of such a long section, a brief summary may be helpful.
Materials adaptation is necessary and natural. It is realized through evaluative-
creative decisions that lead to three processes: omission, addition and change.
These processes can be justified by reference to one or more principles
(localization, personalization, etc.). More research into these principles is
desirable. Where the gap between the teachers assessment of what is required
and what published materials actually provide is small, adaptation will be
minimal. However, if the teacher has very different objectives from those on
which the materials are based (Saraceni, 2003) or holds different beliefs about
how a language should be learnt and taught from those reflected in the materials
(Mares & Islam, 2003), the attempt to achieve the kind of congruence referred to
by Madsen and Bowen (1978) will be much more difficult. Conclusion: careful
selection procedures will not eliminate the need for adaptation, but they can
reduce it. The same holds true for supplementation.

5. Supplementation

5.1 Defining supplementation

Very little has been written about supplementation as a design process. It tends to
be merely listed as one form of adaptation or referred to in discussions of the use
of authentic materials. Where it is mentioned as a separate process, the point is
simply made that it should happen. Garinger (2002), for example, notes: Every
instructor should supplement the textbook with self-created materials or materials
from other sources that reflect the unique needs of the class.
In what is currently the most wide-ranging discussion of supplementation,
McGrath (2002) offers the following definition:

Supplementation . . . stems primarily from the recognition of a deficit: it is an

attempt to bridge the gap between a coursebook and an official syllabus (or
statement of aims), or a coursebook and the demands of a public examination,
or a coursebook and students needs. (McGrath, 2002: 80)

The deficits referred to here concern knowledge or competence: that is, they are
gaps between what students need to know or be able to do and what is provided in
the coursebook. A broader view, which takes account of learner motivation and
mood, would see supplementation as also having the potential to bridge an
affective gap. McGrath (2002) adds that both lesson-initial warm-ups and
activities designed to lift the mood of a class, can serve their affective purpose
and relate to the topic of the lesson (p.81).
Certain forms of adaptation may also be intended to serve very similar
purposes, but whereas adaptation involves working with existing material, such as
a coursebook, supplementation involves introducing something new (McGrath,
2002). Adding additional items to an exercise to provide more practice would
thus be one form of adaptation (extension) and asking additional questions about
a coursebook text would be another form of adaption (exploitation); providing an
additional exercise, on the other hand, whether copied from another source or
devised by the teacher, would be supplementation. On the basis of these
examples, the difference may seem small and relatively insignificant. It is not.
There are, in fact, quite important implications for the ways in which teachers
view published materials and their own skills as well as for their workload. It is
usually easier and quicker to add to something that already exists than to find or
create something new. This is even more obvious when supplementation is on a
larger scale, as with the provision of new texts and accompanying tasks. The
notion of a continuum of scale stretching from very simple forms of adaptation at
one end to more extended forms of supplementation can also be seen in Samudas
(2005) discussion of task design. This distinguishes between task adaptation or
re-design (tweaking, adjusting and adapting existing materials to suit particular
needs), which may entail small changes to the surface details of a task (localizing
names and places for instance) or larger changes to elements of its internal
structure (changing the order of steps for enacting the task, for example) with
unique design work the development of new tasks from scratch (Samuda,
2005: 235), where the latter refers to the design of both one-off, supplementary
tasks and a series of tasks.

5.2 Starting points

Long-term planning and careful scrutiny of the materials available in relation to

course goals may enable some forms of supplementation to be prepared well in
advance of their use. Often enough, though, needs emerge as a teacher gets to
know a class for example, through poor progress test results (alternative form of
presentation and/or more practice required!) or student questions (see, for
example, Jolly & Bolitho, 2011).
Getting to know a class is not simply a matter of being able to predict how they
will cope with materials but also how they will respond. When teachers realize at
the lesson-planning stage that if they only do what is in the book students will be
very bored, they need to come up with an alternative or inject something extra to
add interest or fun. With this in mind, many teachers are subconsciously on the
look-out for materials which will enable them to revitalize a class imminently in
danger of falling asleep or provide absorbing input or a thought-provoking
prompt for the expression of personal ideas. As McGrath (2002) has noted, the
discovery of such materials which need not be designed for teaching, and might
be a piece of realia, for example, or a picture, cartoon, YouTube clip or text is
typically accompanied by one of two reactions: I could use this with Form 3 or
I could use this to practise X. In both cases, the material is a starting point, a
stimulus that can be developed for teaching purposes. McGrath (2002) terms this
concept-driven (i.e. ideas-driven) design to distinguish it from the often
laborious search for material to fill a specific linguistic need. Text-based, and
task-based syllabus designs, neither of which starts from a linguistic syllabus, are
more deliberate and more elaborated versions of the one-off concept-driven
activity or lesson. Arguing for a text-driven approach, for example, Tomlinson
(2011c) writes:
. . . deriving learning points from an engaging text or activity is much easier
and more valuable than finding or constructing a text which illustrates a
predetermined teaching point. . . . If the written and spoken texts are selected
for their richness and diversity of language as well as for their potential to
achieve engagement, then a wide syllabus will evolve which will achieve
natural and sufficient coverage. If the materials are constrained by an external
syllabus, then a text-driven approach with constant reference to a checklist . . .
is the most profitable approach. (p.175)

5.3 Forms of supplementation

Supplementation can be in the form of materials taken from an existing source

(e.g. another textbook, a practice book or test book, authentic print materials, the
internet, in-house materials) or specially created by the teacher. In the case of any
of these types of existing material, the same expectation applies as for
coursebooks: that is, teachers will select from and, using the techniques described
in Section 4, either adapt the materials in order to improve upon them and make
them more suitable for their own students or exploit them for pedagogic purposes.
A supplementary exercise might thus be adapted in any one of a number of ways
(e.g. by giving it a title, simplifying the instructions, changing or adding items,
etc.); and words might be deleted from a song, a cartoon cut up into separate
frames and exploitation activities (not necessarily in the form of comprehension
questions!) devised to accompany an authentic text from a newspaper or
Accuracy-focused supplementary material might deal with any of the language
systems and be intended to raise awareness, practise or test. Oral drills and
worksheets containing transformation, gap-fill or multiple-choice sentence-level
exercises are not the only option. Songs, concordance lines and other texts can be
used to raise awareness of aspects of language use, for example, and games can
be exploited to practise specific phonological and grammatical features.
Surprisingly little attention has been given to worksheet design. However,
McGrath (2002) devotes several pages to this topic, Hughes (2006) draws
attention to simple ways of improving on worksheets, and Tomlinson and
Masuhara (2004) give more general advice on instructions, illustrations and
design and layout. On visual design, see also Wright (1976) and Ellis and Ellis
Increased access to materials via the internet means that authentic materials are
also widely used to supplement coursebooks. Criteria for the selection of written
and spoken texts are discussed in, for example, McGrath (2002), Tomlinson and
Masuhara (2004) and Berardo (2006). Lamie (1999) gives examples of
supplementation using three types of material: games, texts from other textbooks
and authentic materials (magazines, films and TV advertisements); and the use of
authentic materials is also discussed by, inter alia, Peacock (1997b). McGraths
(2002) account of supplementation includes what he calls the real: authentic
materials, concordances and the internet the latter as both a source of materials
and a medium of interaction; numerous references to other sources are also
provided (pp.1378). Tomlinson (2011d) draws attention to the various
possibilities for autonomous student learning that have emerged as a result of new
technology. Wraight (nd) provides a list of useful website resources (see www.c-
english.com/files/effectiveuseofthetext_awraight). Additional references are given
at the end of Section 6.
It is perhaps worth emphasizing that supplementation need not involve the
preparation of materials by the teacher. Appel (1995), whose outspoken puppets
Tony and Ilona were referred to earlier, describes how he used a model of a
London cab (known as Black Taxi) to stimulate his young German pupils to reuse
creatively language they had already encountered:

Originally . . . meant to introduce the word taxi, it quickly developed a

personality of its own. The class had long and deep conversations with Black
Taxi. I held it up in front and asked if there were any questions. The 11-year-
olds were remarkably clever in using bits from the questions I had asked them
at the beginning of the lesson along with bits from the book for drawing out the
conversation with Black Taxi. When one of the kids asked Black Taxi Have
you got any children? his question led to an ingenious two-page homework
showing Black Taxis family tree. (p.119)

We come back to learner involvement in materials development in Section 8.

5.4 Sharing the load

Since finding and adapting or developing original materials can be very time-
consuming, collaboration is desirable. Where several teachers are using the same
basic coursebook and agree on the gaps that need to be filled, for example, a
coordinated plan can be prepared which draws on individuals knowledge of
suitable resources and/or allocates specific responsibilities for finding or devising
materials that can then form part of a shared bank (McGrath, 2002).

6. Developing original materials

As we saw in Chapter 1, some commentators believe that teachers need to be
capable not only of adapting published materials and of supplementing using
existing resources but also of creating their own original materials. Block (1991),
who feels that for at least part of the time, teachers should replace the
commercial course book with a contribution of their own (p.213), sees this as
just one dimension of reflective practice:

Materials development is simply one more element within the larger concept of
teachers taking responsibility for what happens in their classes. If we are to be
reflective practitioners in the field of ELT, we need to consider all aspects of
our teaching. I believe that preparing our own materials is one of those aspects.

Block puts forward three reasons for what he calls do-it-yourself (DIY) materials
design: (1) contextualization (teacher-prepared materials are likely to be more
relevant and interesting than coursebook materials, which are prepared for a
general audience); (2) timeliness in that teacher-prepared materials will be more
topical and (3) the personal touch will be appreciated by learners. Anticipating
concerns about the time involved, he argues that the time investment is
worthwhile if materials are reused, but that sharing of materials among teachers is
Developing Blocks argument, Howard and Major (2004) give four reasons
why teachers may wish to take on the task of materials development. Two of
these echo Blocks reasons: (1) contextualization (teacher-prepared materials can
achieve a better fit than commercial materials) and (2) timeliness (teacher-
prepared materials can respond to local and international events: the teachable
moment can be . . . seized (p.102)), the other two reasons being: (3) individual
needs (teacher-prepared materials can build on L1 skills, ensure that texts and
activities are at a suitable level and adopt an appropriate organizational principle
or focus) and (4) personalization (teacher-prepared materials can take account of
learners interests and preferred learning styles). However, they go on to list both
a number of possible pitfalls and six factors to be considered. Time occurs in
both lists. Logistical considerations are mentioned under pitfalls in relation to
physical organisation and storage, and under the factors to be considered as
resources and facilities. The quality of the materials, physical and conceptual,
is seen as a possible pitfall; and this also has its counterpart under the factors to be
considered in personal confidence and competence. One of the conclusions of
the authors is that however passionately one may believe in the advantages of
teacher-designed materials, the reality is that for many teachers, it is simply not
viable at least not all of the time (p.103). However, they also quote Harmers
(2001: 7) view that the good DIY teacher, with time on his or her hands, with
unlimited resources, and the confidence to marshal those resources into a clear
and coherent program, is probably about as good as it gets for the average
language learner. Harmer chose to frame his point in positive terms but he is
expressing exactly the same caveats about time, resources, confidence and
For teachers who feel able to meet these requirements, guidance is available in
a variety of forms. Howard and Majors paper includes 10 guidelines for
developing effective materials. Other design guidelines, sets of principles and
suggested criteria for judging effectiveness can be found in, for example, Breen
and Candlin (1987), Hutchinson and Waters (1987), Crawford (2002), Tomlinson
and Masuhara (2004), Tomlinson (2010a, 2011b), Jolly and Bolitho (2011); and,
for self-access materials design, Dickinson (1987) and Sheerin (1989). Nunan
(1988a) offers both principles and illustrations of these; and McGrath (2002)
draws on a number of sources to illustrate how materials development can be
made more systematic. Maley (1998) lists 12 procedures for exploiting raw texts
and providing variety. These are: expansion, reduction, media transfer, matching,
selection and ranking, comparison and contrast, reconstruction, reformulation,
interpretation, creation, analysis and project work; appendices give examples of
techniques that can be used with each procedure, and then show how the
techniques can be applied to short texts. Woodward (2001) gives further brief
illustrations of Maleys procedures. Young (1980), Low (1989) and Nunan (1991)
discuss further design options. Byrd (1995a), Hidalgo et al. (1995), Graves
(2000), Richards (2001a), Harwood (2010a), Tomlinson and Masuhara (2010a)
and Tomlinson (2011a) all contain helpfully detailed accounts of materials
development; Graves (1996) draws on six such accounts in a perceptive analytical
study of course development processes. Maley (2011) describes what he calls
scissors and paste and process approaches to materials development. Tomlinson
(2011a) contains two papers on technological developments.
Whether teachers should be trained to create original materials is a question we
will return to in Chapter 4. At this point, it is perhaps sufficient to repeat the
conclusion of Hutchinson and Waters (1987), who saw this as a last resort, when
all other possibilities of providing materials have been exhausted (p.125).

7. Teachers as reflective practitioners

7.1 Reflective practice

Schns (1984) discussion of the reflective practitioner and Wallaces (1991)
argument for a reflective approach in English language teacher education
established the foundation for the now widely accepted view that reflection on
practice is a defining characteristic of teacher professionalism. This belief
underpins the view of teacher roles outlined in this chapter. Reflective teachers
will take into account all the relevant factors in the context, but then determine
their goals and design their course. If they are expected to work with a
coursebook and to use specific parts of the coursebook, they will make up their
own minds about how to use, adapt and supplement the material. They will also
reflect on their decisions.

7.2 Innovation and experimentation

One of the implications of the discussion above of adaptation and

supplementation is that teachers will not be content simply to use coursebooks as
they are, but will be actively looking for ways to get as much out of them as they
possibly can, and then bring in additional material to bridge any gaps that they
have identified.
Evaluative coursebook-based lesson-planning along these lines is one form of
reflective practice. The adjustments made during a lesson (Schns reflection-in-
action) are another. Reflection after the event (Schns reflection on action), on
what went well and less well, and what further changes might need to be made to
materials or procedures (or any other aspect of the lesson plan) completes this
phase of the reflective cycle.
In the quotation below, Broudy (nd, cited in Graves, 2000: 168) reflects on the
experience of teaching a unit of materials she has designed herself:

I still like most of the materials I developed for this module. However, they are
only a resource, to be selected or adapted as it seems appropriate. I must
remember that it is not the materials themselves, but what the students do with
them that is important.

She adds:

On my first go-round, I interpreted sequencing to mean that every lesson plan

should be perfectly planned out and timed. However, such preciseness makes
the lessons too materials-centered and thus too rigid. Classroom management is
important; good pacing and time use are essential for enjoyable, effective
learning. However, as Stevick (1980) points out, there needs to be a proper
balance between teacher control and student initiative. (Broudy, nd, cited in
Graves, 2000: ibid.)

The concluding sentences in both of these quotations underline the need for
flexibility in materials, and in the materials designer a willingness to let go. Jolly
and Bolitho (2011) include in their materials writers kitbag the following items:
phials containing small doses of courage and honesty enabling writer to throw
away materials that do not work or cease to enchant. Another phial needed is
perseverance, admirably illustrated in Lackmans (2010) painstakingly critical
reflection on the four versions of an activity that led up to the procedure he was
satisfied with. Tomlinsons (2011d) assertion that We need to innovate and
experiment if we are really to find out how we could make language-learning
materials more effective (p.439) was made in the context of a discussion about
cooperation between universities and publishers, but it applies equally to teachers
and their own classrooms.

7.3 In-use and post-use evaluation

In their conclusion to a discussion of adaptation, Tomlinson and Masuhara (2004:
18) state: adapting materials can help you produce materials that you want to
teach because you enjoy teaching them. If whilst-use and post-use evaluation can
be included in the process, you can feel confident that your students are enjoying
your adapted materials and that they are learning the target language
successfully. There is no guarantee, of course, that evaluation will reveal the kind
of positive results Tomlinson and Masuhara seem to be promising, but there are
two reasons why in-use and post-use evaluation are necessary: (1) if we do not
evaluate the response to and effectiveness of materials, we have no way of
knowing if they were a suitable choice, and (2) evaluation can provide
information which enables us to improve upon the materials and/or the way in
which they were used. It follows that in-use and post-use evaluation have a place
in reflective practice. Indeed, we might expect that teachers who take the trouble
to adapt materials, provide supplementary materials and develop their own
materials will naturally reflect on how successful these appeared to be and, if
necessary, modify them further in the light of experience (for discussion and
examples of the revision process, see, for example, Lynch, 1996; McGrath, 2002;
Jolly & Bolitho, 2011).
Logically, coursebooks should be subject to the same process. Coursebook
selection, discussed in Section 3.3, may be seen as the end of one phase of
evaluation, but as Cunningsworth (1995) and others have argued in-use and post-
use evaluation are also important. Ellis (1997) has pointed out that retrospective
evaluation should be seen not just as a means of evaluating the specific materials
that have been used; it is also a means of testing the validity of a predictive
evaluation, and may point to ways in which the predictive instruments can be
improved for future use (p.37). McGrath (2002) and Masuhara (2011) both
describe a range of procedures and processes for systematic in-use and post-use
evaluation. These include the involvement of learners.

8. The role of learners in materials evaluation and design

Discussions of learner-centred teaching frequently make the point that learners
should have some input to decisions about not just what they should learn and
how they should learn but also what they should learn through or with that is,
materials. On one level, this might mean no more than consulting learners for
example, about their interests or preferred activity-types (for very different
approaches, see, for example, Spratt, 1999 and Johansson, 2006). Feedback on
materials can also be elicited from learners either at the point of selection or while
materials are being used (see, for example, Breen & Candlin, 1987; Peacock,
1997b; Davis, Garside & Rinvolucri, 1998; McGrath, 2002). In such cases,
learner input is used as a contribution to teacher decision-making.
A rather different kind of relationship is implied by one of the tasks that readers
of Wright (1987) are encouraged to try out. This involves learners planning and
continuously evaluating their own course. Having first gathered information on
any syllabuses, prescribed materials and tests relevant to the group, the teacher
asks learners to respond to the following set of prompts:

Objectives: What do you want to achieve?

Evaluation: How do you want to be evaluated?
Working modes: How would you like to work in the class with your friends
or with the teacher leading class activities?
Activities: What sorts of activity and language learning activity do you want to
Materials: What sorts of learning materials would you like to work with?
Textbooks/Newspapers and books in English/Magazines/Tape recordings of
native English speakers? (Wright, 1987: 141)

Learners are subsequently expected to set learning objectives, choose working

modes, learning materials and activities and keep a running record of what they
have done (for more general discussion of negotiated (process) syllabuses, see,
for example, Nunan, 1988b; Tudor, 1996; and Breen and Littlejohn, 2000).
As regards materials, the suggestion has also been made that learners be asked
to produce materials that can be used for teaching. Allwright (1978) lays a logical
basis for this on the grounds of teacher overload and learner under-involvement
(see also Clarke, 1989). Deller (1990) and Campbell and Kryszewska (1992) are
book-length accounts of implementing this idea. Perhaps inevitably, individual
published reports of classroom experiments tend to be positive (see McGrath,
2002 for a review). Based on these reports, McGrath (2002) offers the following
unequivocal conclusions concerning the benefits of learner-generated materials:

When learners are actively and creatively involved, motivation is increased;

such activities as peer teaching (including correction) constitute a valuable and
valued learning experience and can contribute to group solidarity. There are
also benefits for the teacher. Monitoring learners as they discuss and prepare
materials raises the teachers awareness of individual or general difficulties.
Some of the material is potentially re-usable with learners in other classes.
Teacher-preparation time is reduced. And because there will always be an
element of unpredictability, the classroom is a more interesting place for the
teacher as well as learners. (p.178)

Current research in Singapore involving approximately 100 (mainly primary-

school) teachers (McGrath, forthcoming) is investigating what work on learner-
generated materials actually requires of the teacher in terms of preparation and
troubleshooting, and whether teachers feel the effort involved is really
In the course of previous sections, our focus has gradually shifted from
materials provided for the teacher to the teacher as a provider (through adaptation,
selection or development) of materials. Learners were always present, but only as
a reference point. The writers referred to in this section conceive of a more active
role for the learner, one in which the learner is not only a critical consumer but
also, potentially, a provider of materials. For this to happen, however, both
teachers and learners have to be persuaded of the benefits of a readjustment of
traditional roles. We return to this topic in Chapter 7.

9. Summary
Most of the teacher roles discussed in this chapter can be grouped together under
one of two headings: teacher as evaluator (selection of textbooks and other
materials; lesson planning decisions, including selection/omission, adaptation and
supplementation; in-use evaluation; post-use evaluation) or teacher as designer
(course design; adaptation of textbook and other materials; original materials
design). As we saw in Section 8, however, responsibility for materials evaluation
and provision might also be shared with learners. The next chapter considers what
this view of teacher and learner roles might mean for teacher education.

Teacher educator perspectives

Wheres the coursebook? Its in the wastebasket.

(Harmer, 2001: 5)
Teacher training in ESL/EFL seems to be more concerned with teacher creation of
materials . . . rather than with training in effective textbook use.
(Byrd, 1995b: 7)

1. Introduction
As we saw in Chapter Three, teachers are expected to possess the awareness,
knowledge and skills needed to fulfil roles relating to materials at what are
potentially two levels of responsibility:

to design a course; this involves the selection of materials and the evaluation
of the course as a whole
to plan, deliver and evaluate lessons within an overall course design; this
involves adaptation and, conceivably, supplementation and materials
In practice, the responsibilities for course design and coursebook selection (where
there is a choice) often lie with an institutional manager (e.g. Head of
Department) or a small group of teachers. Many teachers may therefore not have
the freedom to design their own courses or select the materials on which courses
are based. It is nevertheless seen as desirable that they should know enough about
these processes to make a contribution to decisions if there is an opportunity to do
so. At the level of lesson planning, however, all teachers are considered to have a
responsibility to evaluate and select from such materials as are available and, if
necessary, adapt and supplement them. Some may also feel the desire or need
to develop original materials to supplement prescribed materials or as an
alternative to available materials. The range of competences required at even this
second level of responsibility is unlikely to be acquired simply through
experience at least not in the first year or two of teaching. Given the importance
of materials in language learning and teaching, this constitutes a powerful
argument for a sustained focus on materials evaluation and design within both
pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes.
In one or more of their several forms, materials are, of course, inevitably a
focus of teacher education. For instance, a typically practical pre-service course
may include a demonstration of how to organize boardwork, how to draw stick
figures or how to make and use flashcards to teach and practise vocabulary.
During a theoretically oriented course on Methodology, at pre-service or Masters
level, on the other hand, recorded materials in the form of drills or communication
games may be used as illustrations of specific methods. Or in a module on
Curriculum Planning or Syllabus Design, the final two or three sessions might be
devoted to implementation, in the form of materials selection and design. Each of
these references to materials is valid in the context given. Language teachers need
an awareness of how technology (including the use of the board be it
blackboard, whiteboard or interactive whiteboard) can be used to present
language and provide for effective practice. They should also understand that
teaching materials are based on particular theories (and beliefs) about the nature
of language and how it is best learned; and they may be interested to know where
materials selection or design fit into a curriculum planning model. However, what
the designers of teacher education programmes need to bear in mind is that
technology, like the materials which it is used to present, is no more than an aid to
learning; that for a pre-service trainee, a knowledge of language teaching history
is less important than familiarization with the materials used in schools; and that
even on a Masters course, the time spent selecting and/or designing materials
within a course on Curriculum Planning will probably be more directly relevant to
most participants day-to-day work than all the other sessions put together. If
teachers are to acquire and develop the range of skills referred to in Chapter
Three, then a more integrated and systematic approach is needed; in short, a
component dedicated to materials evaluation and design.
This chapter discusses just two of the many issues involved in designing such a
component: the specification of objectives and content, and how this might differ
for pre-service and in-service programmes, and the predictability or otherwise of
course participants work contexts. Sections 24 address the first of these issues.
Section 2 considers whether coursebooks ought to be a focus of teacher education
and the implications of a positive answer to this question. The obvious alternative
to coursebook-based teaching is for teachers to prepare their own materials, and
Section 3 deals with the question of whether training in materials development
should be included in a non-specialized teacher education programme. Section 4
is also concerned with programme scope, in this case the relationship between
instructional technology and materials evaluation and design. Section 5 argues
that, while work contexts should be taken into account where possible, teacher
roles provide a more logical starting-point for course design. Reference will be
made throughout to the teacher education literature, but the conclusions offered
are my own.
Chapter Ten contains a detailed practical discussion of how the objectives
discussed here can be realized.

2. Aims and content of a materials evaluation and design


2.1 Introduction
To judge from the discussion of teacher roles in Chapter Three, teacher education
in materials evaluation and design might embrace all of the following:

course design (including, as a first step, context and needs analyses)

selection of coursebooks and other materials

effective coursebook use (lesson planning, adaptation)

sourcing of supplementary materials

materials writing (supplementary materials and stand-alone materials)

in-use and post-use materials evaluation

learner involvement in materials evaluation and design.

However, teacher education courses vary in length and level. They prepare
participants, who differ in innumerable ways, to teach learners of a particular age
or no particular age in a specific context or no specific context. What this means
is that in any particular context teacher educators have to make decisions about
what to include and what to emphasize. At pre-service level, in particular, one of
these decisions concerns coursebooks.

2.2 The coursebook issue

The attitude of teacher educators towards the use or otherwise of coursebooks in

language learning will have a profound influence on whether and if so, how
these are treated within a teacher education course. This section starts from the
anti-coursebook view (i.e. the view that coursebooks should not be used in
language teachinglearning and therefore have no place in teacher education) and
its related vision, of the teacher as course/materials developer. It then presents the
arguments for the pro-coursebook view (in this case, the justifications for a focus
on coursebooks in teacher education) and what this might encompass.

2.2.1 The anti-coursebook view

Coursebooks have come in for considerable criticism from language teachers, as
we saw in Chapter One, with the result that some opt not to use them even when
they have the opportunity to do so. On some teacher education courses too, the
mere mention of a coursebook may be anathema. Harmer (2001) recalls
interviewing teachers who had done four-week training courses at International
House, London in the 1970s and early-mid 1980s. One claimed that he had been
told that it was a sin to use a coursebook; another recounted that it was only
when he started to work in another school that he realized that some institutions
used coursebooks. The extent of the negativity towards coursebooks is amusingly
illustrated by another example from Harmer (2001:5):

I once knew a teacher trainer who held up a coursebook in front of his trainees
and said Do you know what the only good use for one of these is? When they
looked blankly at him he dropped it into the wastebasket. The only good use
for a coursebook, he said, pointing downwards, is as a visual aid: Wheres the
coursebook? Its in the wastebasket.

The real punchline follows: Since the book had been written by the trainers
school director, this may not have been the most tactful thing he ever said . . .
A more recent version of the same attitude to training can be seen in a paper by
Thornbury (2000), who was referred to earlier as the founder of the Dogme in
ELT movement. Thornbury describes how he and a fellow trainer determined to
wage war on materials-driven lessons. Materials, in this case, were not simply
coursebooks: Photocopies were proscribed; the OHP was banished . . . Real talk,
usually relegated to the bookends of the lesson proper, had to form the lesson
core. And the teacher had to talk not at the students or even to them but with
them. The trainees in this case were teachers on post-experience Diploma
courses and might therefore be assumed to be better capable of coping than those
in Harmers anecdote, and the motive to increase communicative interaction
between teacher and learners was laudable. However, to deliberately deprive
teachers and learners of potentially helpful aids seems not only perverse but also
an abuse of power. Crawford (2002) quotes a contributor to an online forum who
felt that a teachers decision not to use a textbook may actually be a touch of
imperialism . . . because it retains control in the hands of the teacher rather than
in the learners (p.84).
What we have here, in effect, are striking personal examples of the divide
between (some) teacher training institutions and schools (whether in the private
sector or the state sector). Recent research in Australia summarized in Horsley
(2007) of initial teacher education courses in a variety of subjects found that these
included compulsory courses on information and communication technology
(ICT) and how to incorporate this into lesson activities, whereas all students
reported that they received no training or instruction in the use of teaching and
learning materials and textbooks (pp.2523). Ironically, the technology rich
environment in university teacher education contrasted significantly to the lack of
ICT infrastructure in many schools (p.254), and in preparing their lessons the
student teachers used school texts far more than other resources (p.253). Most
tellingly, in one of the key documents also surveyed as part of the research, a 500-
page review carried out for the state of Victoria (Step Up, Step In, Step Out,
2005), there was no mention of teaching or learning materials.
Horsleys conclusion sets out seven key propositions. All have general
relevance for ELT and seem worth quoting in detail:

1 Teacher education discourages the use of textbooks: One consequence of

this ideology is that institutions do not make available to student teachers
the range of published resources used in schools. This means that, in
advance of their practicum, they are unlikely to receive a systematic
introduction to adapting and modifying textbooks for groups with diverse
learning abilities and cultural backgrounds (p.255). Note that the argument
relates to textbooks and not a specific textbook. The concern is with generic,
transferable skills. An institution need not therefore have copies of a vast
range of textbooks, but trainees do need an opportunity to familiarize
themselves with a variety of textbooks and other materials.
2 Lack of school textbooks in teacher education courses contributes to
perceptions about teacher education being disconnected from
schooling: Textbooks are used in schools because they reduce preparation
time. However, in their teacher preparation courses, student teachers do not
learn how to use them. They thus have a steep learning curve under time
pressure. This point applies even if trainees have had some exposure to
textbooks, but they will presumably approach an unfamiliar book with more
confidence if they have some insight into how textbooks are organized and
what is expected of them.
3 Teacher education students use textbooks in schools significantly
during practicum experiences: Studies of teacher education in general
have shown that between 75 and 85 per cent of student teachers use
textbooks when developing units of work and planning lessons
(Loewenberg-Ball & Feiman-Nemser, 2005). One of Loewenberg-Balls
students expressed the view that even though I was trained to be critical of
textbooks I had no alternative (p.192). Another remarked that teaching
and planning all day long . . . is an overwhelming task (p.193) (Horsley,
2007: 256). Textbooks embody professional experience, pedagogical
content knowledge which, as yet, student teachers do not have: the topics,
activities and approaches that experienced teachers have found useful in
promoting teaching and learning with students (ibid.).
4 Teacher education students use school textbooks to learn requisite
knowledge: For student teachers, a textbook can provide quick access to
students level and the kinds of work they have been doing. Textbooks
provide new teachers and beginning teachers with a guide to the depth and
breadth of knowledge required, the concepts involved, the key points that
students need to learn and the level at which the lesson needs to be
developed (p.257). As noted earlier, for non-native speakers of English
who lack confidence in their own proficiency, they serve as a valuable
support; and for both non-native speakers and native speakers, they also
indicate how the language can be broken down, integrated, and sequenced in
order to facilitate learning and provide opportunities for practice.
5 Resourcing lessons is a fundamental aspect of teaching: All classroom
tasks, activities and teaching and learning strategies are based on resources
and materials, and are not independent of them. . . Teaching and learning
resource selection, procuring and accessing is a fundamental aspect of
teaching (pp.2567). Teachers need to know what materials are available,
and be able to justify their selections. If access to the internet is available,
guided browsing and evaluation of websites should also form part of this
resource familiarization process.
6 Teacher education neglects textbook pedagogy: The term textbook
pedagogy was coined by Lambert (2000, cited in Horsley 2007: 258) to
refer to the way teachers use texts in the classroom, how they access and
adapt texts, and how they create a context for their use (p.258). Logically,
teacher education should introduce student teachers to these processes,
rather than relying on their learning through experience.
7 Textbooks and teaching and learning materials are changing:
Textbooks have continued to evolve and change and have become more
complex (p.259). This is certainly true of ELT textbooks, as we have seen
earlier. This is, of course, an argument for training which focuses on
textbooks, as noted above, rather than a single textbook.

2.2.2 The alternative to a coursebook: write your own materials!

In the Australian context, as described by Horsley, trainees had access to
textbooks in the practicum schools but had not been trained in how to use them.
In other contexts, the anti-textbook view extends to the practicum context as well.
Highlighting the contrast between her school and College of Education
experiences in Hong Kong, Yuen (1997) writes about her own introduction to

In Chinese study means read the textbooks. From the first day I went to
school, I had to bring my textbooks. Throughout my school years, I learned
with textbooks. It was not until I entered the College of Education that I was
told not to use textbooks, and I had to design and produce my own teaching
materials during teaching practice.

This will no doubt strike a chord with many teachers.

Commenting on what lies behind this pressure to produce original materials
and writing about (American school) teachers and teacher educators in general,
Loewenberg-Ball and Cohen (1996) make a number of important points:

. . . [teacher] educators often disparage textbooks, and many reform-oriented

teachers repudiate them, announcing disdainfully that they do not use
text[book]s. This idealization of professional autonomy leads to the view that
good teachers do not follow textbooks, but instead make their own curriculum.
Advocates of this view, which is consistent with American individualism,
acclaim teachers who create original materials and lessons. Textbooks, and the
commercial and political constraints that shape their production, are viewed as
a conservative influence (Ben-Peretz, 1990). Curriculum materials are seen to
constrain and control both knowledge and teaching (Apple and Jungck, 1990;
Ball and Feiman-Nemser, 1988), limiting students opportunities to learn
(Elliott, 1990). Teachers who invent lessons are said to be creative and
imaginative. This hostility to text[books]s, and the idealized image of the
individual professional, have inhibited careful consideration of the constructive
role that curriculum might play. (Loewenberg-Ball & Cohen, 1996: 6, square
brackets added)

What is striking here is the reported strength of feeling of those opposed to

textbooks, expressed in the words repudiate and hostility, and their promotion
of the creative and imaginative individual, as a bulwark against the
conservative and constraining influences of commercial curriculum materials.
Loewenberg-Ball and Cohens own attitude to these views comes through clearly
in their use (and repetition) of the word idealized and, indeed, the negative
connotations of disparage and, towards the end of this extract, inhibited; the
force of disdainfully in particular leaves us in no doubt that, for these writers,
the spurning of coursebooks is sheer arrogance.
ONeill (1982: 105) recounts a relevant anecdote, an interesting case of ESP at
one remove. He had just spent three weeks in a German shipyard teaching English
to German technicians who would then instruct Iranians in the maintenance and
repair of submarines, and was handing over to his replacement, a young
intelligent teacher fresh off a course in applied linguistics at a British university:

My God, you havent been using a coursebook, have you? he said, when he
saw my notes. It was as if one doctor trained in the latest medical techniques
had discovered that a colleague had been bleeding one of his patients with
leeches. Indeed, I had been using a textbook for one central part of the course.
My replacement believed that this was inherently wrong. His objections boiled
down to the fact that he didnt want the people he was teaching to know what
he was going to do the next day. It takes away the element of suspense.
Besides, I dont like using other peoples materials. Its so uncreative! he

There is an important difference, of course, between an individual teacher taking

the decision not to use a coursebook, with all that this implies by way of
additional preparation and a possible negative reaction from learners, and teacher
educators forbidding their trainees to use coursebooks, which flies in the face of
reason. If coursebooks are being used in the schools where trainees do their
teaching practice, it makes sense (and is less disturbing for the students) if they
make use of these coursebooks. Novice teachers, and especially non-native
speakers of English who lack confidence in their own language proficiency, find
reassurance in the support that a coursebook can provide. On courses for more
experienced teachers, there might be good reasons for encouraging teachers to
write their own materials, but little justification for insisting that they do so. Even
excellent teachers are not necessarily capable of writing good materials, as
Johnson (2003) discovered when running a materials writing course for Italian
teachers of English.

2.3 The pro-coursebook view

Let us be clear. The arguments for including the study of coursebooks in pre-
service and in-service teacher education courses are not the same as those for
using coursebooks in language courses. Whatever their own views, teacher
educators owe it to participants who may use coursebooks from choice or
necessity to consider how they might be used (more) effectively.

2.3.1 Coursebooks and pre-service courses

Coursebooks are widely used and, as noted above, can provide much-needed
support for the beginning teacher. Senior (2006) tells the story of a trainee teacher
who was diagnosed by her trainers as suffering from text avoidance syndrome.
As reported by the trainee, their argument was, The people who wrote the
textbook are the experts. Why are you recreating the wheel? Theyve done the
hard work for you, theyre the brilliant ones who have been in the industry
forever, Just use their knowledge. Which is true I mean, Im a new teacher, so
what do I know about it (Senior, 2006: 49).
To deal with coursebooks only incidentally on pre-service courses or not to
deal with them at all is to sell the trainee short. Trainees need to know what
coursebooks can offer, what their limitations are, and how they differ, ideally
through exploring them analytically. They need to learn how to use them as
teaching aids, minimizing or compensating for their limitations and exploiting
their strengths. Teacher education can provide the guidance to help them to do
this and the awareness, knowledge and skill to make choices for themselves, one
of which may be not to use a coursebook. Harmer (2001: 9) argues: . . .
examination of issues surrounding the design, choice and use of coursebooks . . .
illuminates just about every theoretical and practical issue which trainees need to
At pre-service level, a related issue is whether participants can and therefore
should be asked to evaluate published materials. Brumfit and Rossner (1982:
129) are in no doubt that they cannot and should not:

Until experience has been gained working with other peoples materials, within
other peoples syllabuses, decisions about what are and are not good materials
and syllabuses can only reflect the external views of those who train, rather
than the internal feelings of students/teachers themselves.

In Chapter Three, a distinction was made between materials evaluation and

materials analysis. As far as short pre-service courses are concerned, materials
analysis might be concerned with, for example, helping trainees to understand
how textbooks are constructed, and to identify the beliefs and principles on which
they are based. On longer pre-service or in-service courses, it might be wider-
ranging and go much deeper (see, for example, Littlejohn & Windeatt, 1989;
Ellis, 2011; Littlejohn, 2011). Evaluation, on the other hand, is concerned with
making judgements about, for instance, whether we agree with the beliefs and
principles on which the materials are based (Breen & Candlin, 1987), on whether
there is a good match (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987) between materials and our
analysis of needs in a specific context, and on whether one set of materials
appears to be more suitable for that context than another.
According to Brumfit and Rossner, trainee teachers do not have the experience
to make judgements about the strengths and weaknesses of materials or their
potential suitability for specific contexts. However, at the point when trainees
begin teaching practice and have to plan lessons which take account of their
students, this argument loses some of its force. As trainees gain awareness of
students needs, we would expect them to take progressively more evaluative
decisions as regards materials (e.g. whether an explanation needs to be
paraphrased or supplemented, whether different or additional examples are
necessary, whether to use this exercise or activity or whether to adapt or replace
Training in textbook use also extends to consideration of the need for
supplementation. Where this consists of borrowing from existing sources (e.g.
other textbooks, online sources), this may seem relatively unproblematic for an
experienced teacher: having identified a specific need, the teacher locates
potentially suitable source material and uses it unchanged or adapts it following
the procedures and principles discussed in Chapter Three (Section 4). However,
beginner teachers may have little or no knowledge of what suitable sources might
be and where to find them. It therefore follows that familiarization with as wide a
range of resources as possible should form part of any pre-service course.
Whether trainees should also be introduced to systematic procedures for the
selection of coursebooks and other materials (as envisaged in Chapter Three,
Section 3) should not depend simply on what will be expected of them in their
future teaching context. The point was made in Chapter Three that even if
teachers are not in a position to take decisions, they may still be able to influence
them. It therefore seems preferable to provide trainees with some evaluation tools
and experience of using them rather than leave them to fend for themselves.

2.3.2 Coursebooks and in-service courses

Teachers with experience of using coursebooks will have views about what they
like/dislike and what they want in a coursebook. If they use supplementary
materials, they will probably also know what they look for in such materials.
They may nevertheless feel the need for help in selecting coursebooks and other
materials more systematically. This can obviously be combined with awareness-
raising concerning new materials (which might include potentially useful
A shift away from coursebook dependence can be seen very clearly in this
account by a Singaporean teacher:

In the first few years in my teaching career, I was totally dependent on the
course books. I was obviously course book-led. I would teach my students from
page 1 to the next. Each lesson was carried out step-by-step. I would start by
reading the passage aloud followed with lessons on grammar items and so on.
There was really no need to source for supplementary materials, to adapt or
differentiate the lesson since everything is provided. Needless to say, there was
no differentiated instruction since the course book is a one-size-fits all. I am
almost embarrassed to admit that I was very contented with the way things
were. Whatever I was teaching in my class was duplicated in the 5 to 6 other
classes in my level. There was a sense of security for us beginning teachers. I
dont feel we should be too hard on ourselves for the way we were as novice
However, after a couple of years of having that Instructional Manual by my
side, I started to deviate. I started going to class with newspaper cutouts,
brochures, and even maps of Sentosa [an island close to Singapore] for the
lessons. I started to depend less and less on the course books. If the aim of the
lesson was to teach pronouns, I will teach it. I made sure that I covered the
syllabus albeit my own way. (Asmoraniye Shaffie, 2011)

In her first few years of teaching, this teacher was teaching by the book, literally.
This gave her a sense of security, and her students no doubt also felt secure in the
knowledge that they were being thoroughly prepared for any tests. However, as
the writer came to realize, textbooks are simply aids to achieving course goals. As
she gained in confidence, she made less use of the book.
This was clearly a positive development. The teacher had taken control and was
selecting authentic materials which she felt would appeal to learners. If this kind
of development can be predicted as teachers gain experience, is training in
textbook use really necessary? Teacher educators are in no doubt that it is.
Richardss (2001b:16) views are typical: teachers need training and experience in
adapting and modifying textbooks as well as in using authentic materials and in
creating their own teaching materials. Teachers can be expected to develop some
strategies for adapting and supplementing textbooks to meet learners needs, but
teacher education can accelerate the process (and perhaps make teachinglearning
easier). In-service teacher education can also raise awareness of a wider range of
possibilities and encourage reflection on alternatives to practices that have
become habitual. In the example above, the teacher expresses a preference for
authentic materials in preference to the coursebook. There will be occasions when
this is clearly the right decision, but there will also be occasions when coursebook
materials can be adapted with relatively little effort. In-service teacher education
offers opportunities to explore such options and develop new skills.
For teachers using coursebooks, one of these skills is the development of
supplementary materials. There is arguably a qualitative gap between the kind of
borrowing-based supplementation discussed above in relation to pre-service
courses (which on in-service courses can have its counterpart in pooling
recommendations and discovering new sources) and the development of original
supplementary materials, whether these are in the form of a worksheet, text-based
activities or larger-scale projects. Materials writing is discussed below, in Section
Teachers need not shoulder the whole burden for supplementary materials
preparation, of course. The argument has been advanced (see Chapter Three,
Section 8) that learners should be involved in supplying supplementary materials.
This is not a new idea, but it is not one that has been widely discussed in the
professional literature. In-service courses would seem an ideal context for
discussion of the pros and cons, for consideration of such issues as the preparation
of learners for a new form of autonomy, and if time and circumstances permit
for small-scale experimentation and feedback.

3. Materials writing revisited

The impression given by the more fanatical opponents of textbooks is that
teachers face an either/or choice (almost a moral choice) between using a
textbook and writing ones own materials. This is not the case: teachers can use a
coursebook and write their own materials. Coursebook-based teaching is a
continuum from frequent to less frequent coursebook use, with opportunities for
autonomy and creativity ranging from minor forms of adaptation to extensive
In this section, we are concerned with both writing as a form of coursebook
supplementation (e.g. the preparation of worksheets or text-based activities) and
the writing of more ambitious and potentially stand-alone materials. As
discussed in Chapter Three (Section 6), these might range from a single thematic
unit to a component on a skill such as writing but fall short of the development of
a whole course.
There are, naturally enough, differences of opinion within the teacher education
literature as to whether courses (pre-service or in-service) ought to equip
participants to write their own materials.
Let us begin with those who are opposed to the idea of teachers writing
materials. Allwrights (1981: 6) view that teachers and textbook writers fulfil
complementary but distinct roles because they have different kinds of expertise
has already been quoted. Brumfit and Rossner (1982) are a little more open to the
idea of trainees writing materials but nonetheless quite guarded:

Materials construction (which does not, of course, require specialized training)

is something which can grow out of dissatisfaction with existing materials
(used in personal teaching experience), and is inappropriate as a goal for
initial training. (Again, we should emphasize that we are not objecting to the
writing of materials during initial courses, in order to enable trainees to
understand some of the problems of materials design. We are concerned with
the idea that teachers can or should leave initial training courses able and
willing to base much of their teaching on materials they write themselves.)
(Brumfit & Rossner, 1982: 129130, emphases added)

There is an acknowledgement here that exercises in materials writing can raise

trainees awareness of some of the problems of materials design. Brumfit and
Rossner would probably also concede that if trainees are dissatisfied with the
materials they are asked to use on teaching practice, they need to know how to
make appropriate changes to these materials (omission or other forms of
adaptation) or know where to find something to supplement what is available
and agree that these kinds of knowledge and awareness ought therefore also to
form part of an initial training course. Where they seem to draw the line is
between materials writing conceived largely as an awareness-raising activity and
the expectation that student teachers should be capable of originating most of the
materials they will need for teaching.
What is most striking about the quotation, however, is the opening statement:
Materials construction . . . does not require specialized training. As we saw in
Chapter Three (Section 6), there is now a growing body of literature offering
principles and practical advice for language teachers on the topic of materials
development and there are also specialized courses, short and long, providing
such training (see, for example, Tomlinson, 2003c: 446, 456, 460). Perceptions
within teacher education of teacher roles have also changed, as can be seen in the
reference in the quotation below to action research as a component of teacher
education programmes:

It is not until teachers have attempted to produce their own materials that they
finally begin to develop a set of criteria to evaluate materials produced by
others. Only then does the full range of options, from blind acceptance of other
materials, through adaptation and supplementation, to the production of
purpose-built materials, become clear. The process of materials writing raises
almost every issue which is important in learning to teach: the selection and
grading of language, knowledge of learning theories, socio-cultural
appropriacy; the list could be extended. And . . . the current emphasis on action
research in teacher education programmes needs to be backed up by the
establishment of materials writing as a key component on initial training
courses and a regular feature of in-service training programmes. (Jolly &
Bolitho, 2011: 129, emphasis added)

By initial training courses, Jolly and Bolitho are presumably referring to longer
courses (e.g. one-year postgraduate certificates or three-to-four-year BA/B.Ed
programmes), where trainees have the opportunity to go through the full range of
options described in the quotation, assess what is needed during their practicum,
and then write and try out their own materials, adapted or specially written. (For
discussion of an in-service BA module based on such principles, see Al-Sinani,
Al-Senaidi and Etherton, 2009.)
Support for such writing is, of course, essential. In the quotation below,
Samuda (2005) is writing specifically about teachers developing their own tasks,
but her comment is equally applicable to any form of materials development:
initiatives towards localized materials production . . . rest on the assumption
that the addition of task design to the teaching repertoire is essentially
unproblematic, either because it is assumed that teachers have already acquired
the relevant design skills to develop tasks . . . or because it is assumed that task
design is a non-specialist activity that is easily picked up on the side. (Samuda,
2005: 236)

Underlining the lack of a foundation for such assumptions, she cites Tsuis (2003)
example of a teacher who had never considered the question of how to design the
task in a way that would make it necessary for the students to collaborate for task
completion (p.174, cited in Samuda, 2005: 236) and who did not have any
principles on which to base her judgment of whether the activities [were] well
designed (p.219, cited in Samuda, ibid.). This example has extra force given the
explicit expectations of the Hong Kong Ministry of Education, referred to in
Chapter One, that teachers should design tasks for their learners.
A further argument advanced for incorporating materials writing into courses
and this applies particularly to in-service courses is that the use by teachers of
materials with which they feel uncomfortable (teaching against the grain) leads
to dissatisfaction, a loss of confidence and learning failure (Jolly & Bolitho,
2011: 129). Such feelings are minimized, Jolly and Bolitho suggest, if teachers
are helped to produce their own materials. Moreover, since this process involves
teachers teaching themselves it is a form of professional development. We
should note here the implicit assumptions that teachers, pre-service and in-
service, have a level of language proficiency such that they can write materials
which offer an appropriate model for their learners or that their tutors can provide
editing/proofreading help.
While it may be true that attempting to develop materials makes one much
more aware as an evaluator (Brumfit & Rossner, 1982; Jolly & Bolitho, 2011), it
also makes sense for that writing to be contextually motivated. When teachers
other than those involved in teacher education programmes decide to write
materials, it is usually for one of two reasons: either they are dissatisfied with the
materials they are using the point made by Brumfit and Rossner (1982) or no
suitable materials are available for the purpose they have in mind. If teacher
educators take teacher realities seriously, this argues for all materials development
within teacher education programmes to be preceded by an evaluative activity of
some kind (e.g. identification of a learner need, evaluation of a piece of material).
We might therefore envisage a cyclical process in which initially both evaluation
and design tasks are very limited and very focused (e.g. at the level of a language
exercise), but gradually become larger and more complex.
This kind of systematic accretive approach might be appropriate at pre-service
level, but at in-service level there may be another possibility. If teachers have
been producing their own materials for example, worksheets, progress tests
and/or exploiting authentic texts, and are willing for them to be used as input to
discussion, these examples can provide an ideal starting-point not only for
exploring what is being done and what is possible but also for consideration of
other key aspects of organized teaching and learning: aims, methodology,
syllabus and the beliefs and theories that underlie these. (See Breen, Candlin,
Dam and Gabrielsen (1989) for an interesting account of a long-term in-service
programme in which materials provided a doorway into wider and more
important pedagogic issues (p.114)). Even if teacher-made materials are not
available, it is difficult to imagine a situation in which experienced teachers
would not be exercising some degree of autonomy towards the published
materials they are using, and discussion of why and how they have exploited or
adapted a particular fragment of a book they are using could ultimately lead in the
same direction.
We might conclude that training in materials writing is desirable for a number
of reasons, some of which are process-related. For instance:

it stimulates the examination of beliefs and theories concerning teaching and

it prompts consideration of principles which underlie lesson design as well
as materials design
it raises awareness of evaluation criteria

it enhances teachers ability to meet learners needs

it provides opportunities for professional development.

Materials writing is, however, just one of the full set of options mentioned by
Jolly and Bolitho (2011). It is the most demanding, for obvious reasons. In some
teacher education contexts, moreover, its relevance might be questioned.
Paradoxically, as Byrd (1995b) has pointed out: Teacher training in ESL/EFL
seems to be more concerned with teacher creation of materials . . . than with
training in effective textbook use (p.7). In contexts where textbook use is
required, expected or prevalent, it therefore seems logical that training in
adaptation and supplementation should be prioritized and that (unless the Ministry
says otherwise, or teachers themselves see this as a need) within non-specialized
courses on materials evaluation and design materials writing is presented to
teachers as an option rather than an obligation.

4. Materials and instructional technology

One way in which publishers seek to improve their product (and keep a step
ahead of their competitors) is to make use of new technology, but to use these
new materials effectively teachers have to know how to use the technology. For
practising teachers, in-service workshops may be organized and ongoing (in-
house) support provided. In large institutions offering pre-service teacher training
in a range of disciplines, there appear to be three options: (1) a generic course on
instructional technology and a separate subject-specific course on materials
evaluation and design; (2) two separate subject-specific courses; (3) a single
course which combines the two. Let us compare two examples of option 3.
The Ministry of Higher Education (YK) in Turkey requires all universities,
public and private, to include a course on Educational Technology and Materials
Development in their programmes for future English language teachers. This
course should contain:

Concepts of Instructional Technology, characteristics of various types of

Instructional Technology. Role and use of Instructional Technology in
teaching. Identification of technology needs in the classroom and school.
Appropriate planning and management of the use of technology. Using
technology to develop 2D and 3D materials, developing teaching tools
(worksheets, activities, slides, visual media tools such as DVD, VCD, smart
boards,and computer-based tools). Analysing educational software, evaluating
teaching tools of varying quality. Internet and distance education, principles of
visual design, research pertaining to the effectiveness of teaching materials.
The state of Instructional Technology for teaching in Turkey and other
countries (translation).

As interpreted by Bilkent University, for example, this is a course about the use
of technology in teaching: computers, visual teaching aids and all other
interactive materials. The production of such materials by student teachers, and
the evaluation of these materials when used in teaching. It is taught for 3 hours a
week over 14 semester weeks (Margaret Sands, personal communication).
The time allocated to this course (a total of 42 hours) bears witness to the
importance attached to it. As the syllabus indicates, moreover, this is not intended
to be simply an illustrated lecture series on how to use a variety of teaching aids.
Reference is made to needs-identification, the use of technology to develop
teaching materials, the analysis and evaluation of software and other teaching
tools, as well as to concepts, principles and research. Taught by a tutor with first-
hand knowledge of the school settings in which trainee teachers will find
themselves and the kinds of teacher-produced materials that might be useful, a
course based on this syllabus would be a helpful form of preparation; and, in the
Bilkent version at least, the requirement that student teachers produce their own
materials and evaluate these during teaching practice ensures that there is an
applied dimension to their learning. One would hope that students would also be
encouraged to consider the pros and cons of high-tech, low-tech and no-tech
teaching, assess the appropriateness of one form of technology for a specific
purpose against another and devise strategies for coping when there is a power
Now compare this with the treatment of materials and ICT in Table 4.1. This is
taken from Unit 4 (Planning and resources for different teaching contexts) of the
5-unit syllabus for courses leading to the award of the Cambridge ESOL
Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults (CELTA).

Table 4.1 Extract from CELTA syllabus

University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (2011: 10).

Courses offered by Cambridge-approved centres must be based on the syllabus
and consist of a minimum of 120 contact hours, including a minimum of six
hours observation of experienced teachers and six hours of assessed practice
teaching. They are intended for those with little or no ELT experience or with
some experience but little training. A concern for materials evaluation and design
runs through all the awards offered by Cambridge ESOL see
Unit 4 as a whole is assessed through lesson plans, observed teaching and an
assignment. The first few criteria for the assessment of teaching practice are as

(4a) identifying and stating appropriate aims/outcomes for individual lessons

(4b) ordering activities so that they achieve lesson aims/outcomes
(4c) selecting, adapting or designing materials, activities, resources and
technical aids appropriate for the lesson. (CELTA syllabus, p.15, emphasis
These criteria are noteworthy for three reasons. First, they imply a particular
approach to lesson planning, one in which lesson aims/learning outcomes are
determined first and materials selected subsequently, as a way of achieving these
aims (as recommended in Chapter Three). Second, we might note that while
adaptation is expected the use of or, in adapting or designing materials,
indicates that design (or what we have earlier referred to as supplementation and
materials writing) is an alternative to adaptation and not a requirement of every
lesson. And third, materials, activities, resources and technical aids are grouped
together as means which enable outcomes to be achieved. The CELTA syllabus
and assessment criteria and the Turkish syllabus both express pedagogical
expectations, but these are rather different. Moreover, the Turkish
syllabus is weighted towards technology and the development of teaching tools
using technology, whereas the CELTA syllabus appears to prioritize materials
adaptation (though design is also mentioned) and awareness-raising concerning
resources. Two further points of comparison concern the scope of the two
syllabuses and the time available. The CELTA syllabus contains an additional
section (Unit 5.4) on the use of teaching materials and resources, but is
nevertheless clearly much narrower in scope than the Turkish syllabus. Doubts
might be raised in relation to both syllabuses about the time allocated to materials.
Within the CELTA syllabus, Sections 4.44.5 and 5.4 represent only a small part
of the 120 contact hours; as regards the Turkish syllabus, it seems possible that
the technological tail will wag the materials dog. All courses operate under time
constraints, however, and this simply points to the need for continuing education
in materials evaluation and design, both formally organized and self-directed.

5. Training context and teaching context

In the previous section we looked at an extract from the CELTA syllabus.
Courses based on this syllabus are typically taught intensively over a four-week
period. Trainees on such a course, at a language school in London, for example,
might be aged between 20 and 60, say, of any nationality, and with potentially
very different educational backgrounds and work experience, and the course
would usually provide a daily mixed diet of input and teaching practice with
multilingual groups of young adults and frenzied preparation every evening for
teaching the following day. In this situation, teacher educators must try to balance
support tailored to teaching in the training context with generalized preparation
for teaching beyond the course. This may turn out to involve teaching children (as
well as or instead of adults) in mixed-nationality groups in the United Kingdom
or in a country where groups of learners are monolingual.
What this scenario reveals is that the starting-point for such open access pre-
service courses cannot be a defined context. It can only be a specification of the
roles that teachers need to play and the knowledge, skills and awareness that they
need to fulfil these roles. Teacher educators in other contexts also have to prepare
trainees for the unpredictable. Gonzlez Moncada (2006), for instance, points out
that student teachers following an undergraduate programme at the Universidad
de Antioquia in Colombia may, after graduation, find themselves working in an
institution bursting with technological resources or with no resources at all. Asked
how trainees might be better prepared for materials use on teaching practice, a
teacher in the first kind of environment suggested: You should expose students to
the use of multimedia software and the adaptation of Internet pages, whereas his
counterpart working in a very poor neighbourhood argued: As a student [teacher]
one needs to learn to work with nothing. I cannot ask my students to buy a
textbook, a dictionary, or to get some money to pay for copies. I just have the
board and chalk. Its very hard to be creative under these circumstances. I wish
student teachers could visit my school and face the reality of displaced people
who have nothing (Gonzlez Moncada, 2006: 10). Gonzlez Moncadas
principal conclusions are that student teachers need: to be exposed to real school
contexts [and] face the limitations . . . experienced in regular English classrooms;
to have longer and deeper training in the use of technical and non-technical
materials; and to be acquainted with different possibilities to make adequate
choices (p.11). A more general conclusion, which takes account of variation in
teaching contexts, might be that the syllabus for a pre-service teacher education
course in materials evaluation and design should be based on a specification of
core teacher roles vis--vis materials, as discussed in this chapter, but at the same
time equip trainees to cope flexibly with a variety of predictable constraints (a
point we return to in Chapter Eight).
When teachers have experienced one or more specific teaching contexts and
have a sense of their own needs, they expect to take away from a course not just
new knowledge and useful insights but also practical ideas that can be applied.
Writing of postgraduate programmes in English-speaking countries, Canniveng
and Martinez (2003) make the claim that teacher educators on such courses do not
take participants contexts and previous experience into account: General criteria
related to materials development, evaluation and adaptation is usually fed to the
trainees but there is little time paid to the process of how to develop personal
specific criteria to suit the trainees. As a consequence, the trainees do not always
engage in self reflection (p.483). Teacher educators who teach on such courses
and endeavour not only to gain an understanding of participants work-contexts
but also make use of tasks which encourage individuals to reflect on how general
principles and procedures can be applied or adapted in their own contexts will no
doubt feel irritated by such unsupported assertions. They might also argue that a
legitimate aim of a postgraduate programme is to equip participants for possible
changed responsibilities commensurate with their new knowledge and skills and
their shiny new qualifications (Tomlinson & Masuhara, 2003).

6. Summary
The argument advanced in this chapter is that language learning materials are
such a key element in the teachinglearning encounter that consideration of their
selection, use and design cannot be consigned to the periphery of a teacher
education programme, narrowly constrained within wide-ranging courses dealing
with curriculum/syllabus or method, or labelled as optional: materials evaluation
and design should be a central (core) component of both pre-service programmes
and post-experience postgraduate programmes. The chapter has furthermore
suggested that at pre-service level aims and content should be related to
predictable teacher roles. A number of these roles cluster around the use of
effective use of textbooks. It therefore follows that textbooks should normally be
a focus, but opportunities should also be provided to explore other resources.
Trainees may not go on to use textbooks, but they will use materials. They
therefore need to know how to source alternative materials, evaluate them, exploit
them fully and, if necessary, modify them and supplement them. On in-service
courses, the starting-point where possible should be the materials teachers are
using, including those they have produced themselves, and teachers views of
their own needs, such as guidance in systematic materials evaluation procedures
or materials writing.
This is the last of our three external perspectives on teacher roles and the end of
the final chapter in Part One. We turn now to the perspectives of teachers and
learners. Among the questions that we might carry with us from Part One are the

What do teachers see as their responsibilities in relation to materials and

What do teachers and learners feel about coursebooks?

How are coursebooks selected?

Do teachers use coursebooks critically and creatively?

Do teachers involve learners in materials selection, evaluation and design?


Teacher and learner perspectives: Practice


How teachers evaluate coursebooks

Most private and state schools choose coursebooks based on what

publishers offer and make available; in some cases, the donation of a
computer becomes more of a determining factor than a suitable procedure
for evaluating and selecting coursebooks.
(Inal, 2006: 20, describing the situation in Turkey)
In all schools, the majoritys view would naturally win and the conflicts would be
resolved in this way. Usually no voting was needed and the decision came from
negotiation or persuasion.
(Law, 1995: 105, describing the selection process in Hong Kong secondary

1. Introduction
The professional literature on coursebook evaluation presents compelling reasons
why teachers should take coursebook selection seriously and approach it
systematically (see Chapter Three, Section 3). One of the most obvious reasons is
that coursebooks are normally an investment, in more ways than one: Students
work with the textbooks for just one year, whereas . . . teachers work with them
year in and year out (Fredriksson & Olsson, 2006: 22). Recommended selection
practices include the use of a checklist and the involvement of all those who will
use the chosen book, including learners. More broadly, the literature also argues
that the evaluation process should not be simply predictive, that is, stop at the
point of selection, but continue in the forms of in-use and post-use (retrospective)
evaluation. Although the primary focus of this chapter is on the evaluation of
coursebooks, the same principles hold good for any materials.
Section 2 reviews a number of retrospective evaluation studies that is,
research in which teachers were asked to evaluate the coursebooks they had used
on the basis of criteria supplied by the researchers. Section 3 then presents a
variety of accounts which illustrate how coursebook selection procedures differ
across contexts. Section 4 reports on studies exploring teachers own evaluation
criteria. Finally, Section 5 considers whether in-use and post-use evaluation
appear to be taken seriously.

2. Retrospective evaluation studies

It is perhaps natural that the introduction by a Ministry of Education of a new
official textbook series should prompt independent evaluation studies. After all, it
is in the national interest that these books should promote effective teaching
learning. Moreover, any negative findings are more likely to inform the revision
of future editions than might be the case with a global coursebook package, unless
the feedback comes from a major market.
Alamris (2008) evaluation of the sixth-grade English language textbook for
boys in Saudi Arabia, introduced in 2004, starts from just these premises. The
researcher also points out that this first book in the series has particular
significance since it represents pupils first contact with English and is thus the
building block for primary English language education (p.2).
The study was narrowly focused on the Riyadh Educational Zone, but sought to
include the whole population (127) of teachers and supervisors in this area. A 64-
item questionnaire based on a number of sources was used with items grouped
into 12 categories (e.g. Topic Appropriateness; Teaching Strategies). Responses
were elicited using a 4-point Likert scale, where 4 indicated strong agreement and
1 strong disagreement. The combined response rate for completed questionnaires
was 81 per cent (93 teachers and 11 supervisors).
On the basis of a statistical analysis by category, Alamri singles out Teaching
Strategies as the category provoking most dissatisfaction, commenting that the
majority of respondents felt the textbook to be outmoded as far as teaching
methods and learning strategies are concerned: an overwhelming majority
maintained that the book is teacher-centered, does not allow for student
participation and quite effectively constrains any, and all, opportunities for class
activities which would promote the teaching and learning of English (pp.812)
a rather damning conclusion.
Other categories provoked very mixed views. For example, varying levels of
satisfaction were expressed with three of the four criteria under Topic
Appropriateness, five of the six criteria under Skills Development, all three
criteria under Teachability and all four criteria under Flexibility. Although no
explanations are offered for responses which are sometimes distributed across the
whole range from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, one might speculate that
in some cases this is because the items contain more than one proposition, in
other cases because respondents are interpreting concepts (such as integrated
skills or communicative) in different ways.
Examples of the 13 individual features generally felt to be weak, judged by
mean scores (based on the combined response of teachers and supervisors) below
2.50, are shown below, in rank order from lower to higher:

The topics allow students to think creatively (Topic Appropriateness)

The illustrations stimulate students to be creative (Design and Illustration)

The methods used allow students to talk more than teachers (Teaching
The book caters for different levels of formality (Flexibility)

The methods used are student-centred (Teaching Strategy)

The book provides communicative exercises and activities that help students
carry out communicative tasks in real life (Practice and Testing)
Listening material is well recorded, as authentic as possible, and
accompanied by background information, questions and activities (Skills
In respondents judgement, then, the topics did not allow students to think
creatively, the illustrations did not stimulate students, etc. Overall, supervisors
tended to give more positive ratings than teachers. We might surmise that this was
because they had not taught from the book themselves and were therefore
unaware of some of the weaknesses. If only teacher ratings had been used, then
even more individual criteria would have been judged unsatisfactory.
On the face of it, this study would seem to be of purely local interest and of
most relevance to the Ministry and coursebook writers. This may be true as
regards the specific findings. One might argue, however, that such studies also
have value for the teachers and supervisors concerned, in prompting reflection on
aspects of the materials that they might otherwise not have thought about and in
offering an outlet for feelings that might otherwise not have been expressed. From
a broader perspective, moreover, the study and others like it have significance as
examples of systematic attempts to research the match between a proposal for
teachinglearning (embodied in a textbook package) and the judgement of the
suitability of that proposal by those with intimate knowledge of the circumstances
in which it needs to be implemented. Researchers with similar objectives will no
doubt wish to give careful attention to the design of this and similar studies by
consulting the original sources.
Al-Yousef (2007) offers a rather different motivation, the criticisms of teachers
and students, for his study of the third grade (intermediate) textbook in the same
series, introduced in 2005:

Some argue that the . . . CB is overloaded with too many new vocabulary items,
and others claim that it is too difficult for learners. Some teachers and
supervisors criticisms included a mismatch between content to be covered and
the time allotted for English lessons. This stance was noticed from personal
communication with some colleagues, as well as from the online messages
posted by teachers and supervisors in several educational forums. (Al-Yousef,
2007: 3)

Although Al-Yousefs study was similar in scale to that of Alamri as far as the
teacher and supervisor respondents were concerned, it was much broader in its
geographical scope, drawing on informants from 30 cities and villages all over
Saudi Arabia (79 teachers, 8 supervisors and 8 teacher-supervisors who were
unemployed at the time of the survey); it also elicited feedback from students
(88). The main data collection instrument, referred to as a Textbook Evaluation
Tool (TET), which was based on Cunningsworth (1995) but customized for the
purpose of the study, contained 50 items in statement format divided into 14
categories and used the same 4-point Likert response scale as Alamri. The
students were volunteers recruited from the researchers own classes.
Each of the four items rated only by teachers and supervisors attracted a
generally negative response. These ranged from a mean of 1.88 for the Teachers
manual to 1.74 for grading and recycling. In general, the students rated the book
more highly than the teachers/supervisors, an exception being their reaction to the
treatment of phonology. Table 5.1, which is a selective and reorganized version of
Al-Yousefs Table 30 (p.85), shows the highest and lowest mean scores for the
students; aggregated teacher/supervisor means are shown alongside for
The differences were statistically significant in all but the last (supplementary
material) of these categories.
What do these differences between the ratings of students and
teachers/supervisors tell us? Well, perhaps students were less aware of what
they needed to know, or of how this could be presented and therefore less
critical. On a more general level, and bearing in mind that any score below 2.5
should be interpreted as a negative judgement, we can see that, despite the mildly
positive reactions from students to the first five items in the table, the means of
means suggest that, overall, the materials appealed to neither students nor
teachers. While this may suggest that insufficient attention had been paid to
students needs and teachers beliefs, we should not be too hasty to jump to this
conclusion. It is possible, for instance, that the materials were innovative and that
teachers had not been adequately trained in their use. This would inevitably have
had a negative effect on teacher ratings and a knock-on effect on student ratings.
Table 5.1 Student and teacher/supervisor means on selected items

A number of other studies have used questionnaires or checklists to explore

teachers views of commercial textbooks. Kayapinar (2009), for example, reports
on a survey carried out in the academic year 20067 of English teachers in 25
high schools in Turkey. Fourteen of the schools were using one global textbook
package (Opportunities), and the other 11 another package (New English File).
Ninety-four teachers completed a 76-item questionnaire and another 40 took part
in interviews. Unfortunately, perhaps for reason of space constraints, neither the
original questionnaire nor the detailed findings are included in the appendices to
the paper; moreover, the discussion of the questionnaire findings is based on the
combined responses of all the teachers, despite the fact that two different
packages were being used. Nevertheless, the negative tendencies reflected in the
results are of some interest. For instance, the teachers felt that the packages
provided insufficient support for independent learning; that pronunciation was not
treated as systematically as it might be; and that more reinforcement of
vocabulary would be desirable. Unsurprisingly, given that the two coursebook
packages are intended for the global market, the teachers pointed out that though
the target language culture is always or usually presented, that of (Turkish)
students is rarely or never illustrated. The interviews obviously allowed teachers
to express their views more forcefully. They commented that students would not
be able to transfer language items related to specific cultural events such as
Halloween or going to church to other contexts, and this would affect their
motivation to learn these items; and that the packages severely limited their
freedom as teachers:

. . . the particular coursebooks do not expand their teaching repertoire. On the

contrary, they narrow down their teaching repertoire because there is almost
nothing to do except for following the books.
They sometimes decide in English circles to supplement the books with
workbooks but they hardly do it in the classroom because they should do it in a
rush or leave some of the exercises. (Kayapinar, 2009: 75)

The strongest theme to emerge from the interviews is that, in the view of these
teachers, such global textbooks cannot adequately meet local needs. One teacher
commented dismissively that the authors were just writers in dark rooms with
internet connections, and respondents were agreed that experts in national
universities (ibid.), with their awareness of local needs, would be able to create
more appropriate materials.
This conclusion is at odds with that of akt (2006), who made use of a
questionnaire to study the attitudes of 336 Turkish students to the ninth grade
(high school) textbook produced by the Ministry of National Education. Eight
teachers were also interviewed. Students were negative about the appearance and
interest level of the materials. Teachers commented that exercises, tasks and
activities were too difficult and that texts were too lengthy and linguistically
complex, with the result that students had no desire to read them. There was
insufficient recycling, too little attention to the development of learner autonomy,
and no provision for differences in learning style. Teachers also felt that there was
too much material for one years work. akts findings emphasize the importance
of incorporating learner needs analysis into the process of materials evaluation:
The teachers pointed out that the aims and objectives of New Bridge to Success
3 are quite in line with the ninth grade English course syllabus [. . .]; however the
needs, aims and interests of the students are totally neglected in both (p.139).
The dissertation is also of interest for the fact that it contains mini reviews of a
number of studies of in-house materials used in Turkish universities.
Although the motivation for the study reported in Litz (2005) was very
different, it was also concerned to evaluate a specific book, in this case the global
textbook English Firsthand 2. Before this was arbitrarily introduced by the
administration of an unnamed South Korean university as a mandatory textbook
for high-beginners classes in the EFL programme teachers had been using a
variety of in-house materials (p.10), and, as Litz makes clear, the teachers were
clearly not pleased by the universitys decision. He notes drily, it was decided by
the teaching staff soon thereafter that a research project needed to be initiated in
order to determine the overall pedagogical value and suitability of this book
towards this important component of the university language program (ibid.).
The study took place at the end of the academic year 20001, the first year in
which the textbook was used. A specially designed 40-item questionnaire with a
10-point response scale was administered to all 8 teachers working on the course
and an abridged version of this (25 items) to 500 students, all aged 22 or over.
Items receiving the most positive response, as reflected in the mean teacher
ratings, were items 9, 12 and 37, all of which had a mean of 9 out of 10:

9. An adequate vocabulary list or glossary is included.

12. The teachers book provides guidance about how the textbook can be used
to the utmost advantage.
37. The textbook is appropriate for the language-learning aims of my

The lowest means were for the following, where the mean is shown in brackets:

10. Adequate review sections and exercises are included (6).

19. The tasks are conducive to the internalization of newly introduced language
24 The textbook highlights and practices natural pronunciation (i.e. stress and
intonation) (5).

Litzs online report does not make an explicit item-by-item comparison between
teacher and student ratings, but in Table 5.2, a number of items have been
extracted from the student questionnaire (SQ) and teacher questionnaire (TQ)
which might be assumed to relate to issues of direct concern to students. The
means are based on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high).
The differences are not very clear-cut, but one might argue that there is a weak
indication that students are less convinced than teachers about the appropriateness
of the book for their needs (items 19, 10 and 14 in the student questionnaire). In
fact, in response to a needs analysis survey which accompanied the questionnaire,
44 per cent of the students stated that they did not like using a textbook (the
reasons are not given). More broadly, however, the survey indicated that both
teachers and students were reasonably satisfied with the book. The authors
conclusion is as follows:

Table 5.2 Students and teachers ratings for specific items

Despite a few reservations and shortcomings (e.g. lack of an ESP focus), the
teachers felt that EF2 was relatively compatible with the universitys language-
learning aims (intermediate communication skills) and suitable for small,
homogeneous, co-ed. classes of senior Korean students. It was also felt that any
superfluous concerns might be alleviated or eradicated through supplementing,
modifying and adapting problematic aspects of the book. (Litz, 2005: 34)

The University no doubt felt that its decision had been vindicated.
Retrospective evaluation studies can serve a number of purposes, as we have
seen. They can encourage reflection in teachers and thereby enhance their
personal and professional development; they can also give them a voice. Most
obviously, they point to weaknesses in materials that have emerged as a result of
using them, feedback which may lead to revisions in later editions. Al-Yousefs
(2007) research employed only four questions specifically for teachers, as
compared with the 15 in Litzs (2005) study. However, one common finding was
that teachers felt that more review was desirable. The implication is clear: action
is needed. If the books do not make adequate provision for review, then teachers
must build it in themselves. In Litzs (2005) study, moreover, students were rather
less positive than teachers about some aspects of the materials. An initial survey
of students interests, perceived needs and wants can provide useful baseline data
for course planning purposes, but feedback on materials use from both students
and teachers is a vital instrument in course review and development.

3. Selecting coursebooks: processes and criteria

Teachers are not always in a position to choose the book(s) they use. They may be
obliged to use a textbook produced by their Ministry of Education or the
institution in which they work. Of the 106 Indonesian teachers surveyed by Jazadi
(2003), 67 per cent stated that they used the Ministry textbook all of the time or
most of the time and a further 27 per cent sometimes. Top-down mandates may
be even less effective. Chandrans (2003) interview-based study of 60 Malaysian
teachers in urban schools found that most did not use the prescribed textbooks,
preferring to use commercially published workbooks instead.
Where there is a choice to be made, various forces may have an influence on
selection. Inal (2006) claims that in Turkey most private and state schools choose
coursebooks based on what publishers offer and make available; in some cases,
the donation of a computer becomes more of a determining factor than a suitable
procedure for evaluating and selecting coursebooks (p.20).
Often the decision is taken by someone in authority within an institution. The
induction into secondary school teaching of two Thai teachers, Arunee and
Sasikarn (both pseudonyms) is described by Hayes (2008). Arunee was given a
book and told to use it. Sasikarn had a choice, but no guidance:

[I was told] Heres your room . . . this is English Department, thats your table .
. . this is another coursebook we have for you. This is from last year. Oh this is
the pile of books you can choose by yourself which one you are going to teach
and then we will order that for students . . . Yes, after that have to, you know,
look at the coursebook and then start planning the lessons. (Sasikarn, cited by
Hayes, 2008: 623)

As the following extract from an interview with a Lebanese teacher indicates,

teachers may be asked for their views about textbooks, but the final decision may
rest with a coordinator or even an administrator.

T: At the end of the year . . . the coordinator comes up with probably maybe
say five different coursebooks. OK, these are new coursebooks, what do you
think of them? We go home, we browse through them, we like them, fine; we
dont like them, we tell her. But it doesnt mean that because we like them
theyre actually chosen. The administration might tell us, no, its too expensive
or something else . . . We dont even have a meeting about it, we just meet with
the coordinator and tell her very informally, I like it, this is what it has, it
doesnt have, and thats it . . .
I: Would you describe this process as systematic?
T: No, definitely not . . . [I was] just thrown in What do you think of this
book? And youre expected to know, you are a teacher, youre supposed to
know what you should look for. Well, I dont really know. So basically I just
use my gut feeling, so to speak.

What comes through clearly in this account is that the teacher, who had
approximately eight years teaching experience, felt that she was being asked to
do something for which she had not been prepared (by either her training or the
coordinator). What is also striking about the process described is that teachers
reported individually to the coordinator; no meeting was arranged at which
teachers could exchange views about the competing books.
Fredriksson and Olsson (2006) carried out an interview-based study of four
experienced teachers of languages in a Swedish secondary school who had
regular monthly meetings. Decisions concerning the choice of textbooks for the
following year were made at one of these meetings. The school had been open for
only eight years and in that time new textbooks for English had been purchased
three times. The teachers felt that the first choice, influenced largely by the
recommendation of another school, had been over-hasty. On the second occasion,
a teacher had brought in a copy of a book co-written by someone she knew.
Following discussion, it was agreed to adopt the book. When, at a later date,
another book was suggested, some teachers volunteered to try this out, and the
book was then piloted in two classes. The researchers see the different approaches
adopted as being indicative of how the schools ability to select textbooks has
improved (p.27). The inclusion of a piloting stage certainly seems to have been
an advance; however, it might still be argued that in the absence of any agreed
explicit criteria the selection process remained unsystematic.
As part of a decentralization process that has taken place in Taiwan, since 2002
junior high school teachers have been free to choose their own textbooks rather
than use those produced by the Ministry. Wangs (2005) study of six teachers
reveals that they found the process of predictive evaluation using a checklist
provided by their coordinator a burden, both because it was time-consuming and
because they felt ill-equipped in terms of their own expertise. Such feelings of
inadequacy are attributed to the fact that there is not much professional training
on this part (Teacher 1, cited by Wang, 2005: 80) but may also have been a
consequence of the fact that for these junior high school teachers textbook
selection was still a relatively new role. Studies conducted by Ie (2003) and
Huang (2004), both cited in Wang (2005), suggest that elementary school
teachers, by comparison, felt confident in their ability to evaluate textbooks.
The teachers in Wangs study also felt that some of the evaluation criteria that
they were expected to respond to were too vague: How to give marks to
corresponding to objectives of instruction? Its a big question. Actually, we just
have the general impression (Teacher 3, cited by Wang, 2005: 87). At the same
time, there was a recognition that checklists have a value: At the very beginning
of evaluating the textbooks, I do not know how to evaluate or what to review.
With the checklists, I find there are some items worthy consideration . . . Through
using the checklists, we reduce the number of alternatives to two or three sets
(Teacher 1, cited by Wang, 2005: 87). Nevertheless, there is some evidence of an
attempt to subvert the process. Two teachers admitted that they engaged in what
they referred to as a reversed operation, that is, We would figure out which
version we prefer first. Then we give the marks . . . If I want some version to be
selected, I would give higher marks to this (Teacher 3, cited by Wang, 2005: 87).
The implication is that though the checklist may have served a useful purpose
initially, it is no longer used to guide systematic decision-making.
Law (1995) carried out a carefully designed survey of all (101) teachers of
English in a representative selection of 10 schools in Hong Kong, and followed
this up with interviews with four heads of English, known locally as panel
chairs. The focus of the teacher survey was on teachers attitudes to coursebooks,
their use of these, and their views on the need for a textbook evaluation model.
Specialists from the English unit of the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI)
also completed a questionnaire to permit comparison between the official view
and those of the teachers. Seventy-one per cent of the teachers had been teaching
for at least five years; 54 per cent had a degree and a teaching qualification and 23
per cent a teachers certificate, that is, almost a quarter were not professionally
qualified. Law acknowledges that her own position as an officer in the CDI may
have affected the outcome of the interviews, as may the fact that the
questionnaires were not anonymous and were collected by panel chairs.
Roughly 10 per cent of the teachers surveyed stated that textbooks were
selected by the panel chair, the remainder claiming that all teachers were
involved. Nearly all (96%) thought that the selection decision should be taken by
teachers. However, a small number of teachers admitted that though they had not
taken a very active part in the selection process, they would not have wanted any
more active a role, citing as reasons their lack of experience and confidence.
Other teachers pointed out that their workload constrained the time they could
spend on textbook selection and evaluation. Teachers recommendations included
more formal meetings for discussion of textbooks and the provision of guidelines
for new teachers.
Only two chairs held formal meetings to discuss textbook selection and
evaluation; prior to these, they would circulate the textbooks under consideration
and ask teachers to complete forms or write comments. However, five chairs
thought that formal meetings and the records associated with these were too time-
consuming and that informal exchange elicited more ideas. The remaining chairs
thought both types of discussion were useful and necessary. None of the schools
had written guidelines for materials selection. Three panel chairs said they gave
teachers general oral guidelines. According to the panel chairs, voting on
preferences was generally unnecessary, decisions normally being the result of
negotiation or persuasion (p.105). Three panel chairs claimed that there were
no differences in opinions among their staff as all of them were either obedient,
cooperative or compromising (p.104).
Although some panel chairs clearly had more confidence in the ability of their
teachers to make well-informed judgements than others, all but two saw value in
training teachers in textbook selection and evaluation and providing them with
guidelines. The need for a consensus on such guidelines, underpinned by training,
is well illustrated by Laws own ranking experiment. She asked panel
chairpersons, English teachers and CDI officers to rank a set of 12 criteria in
terms of their importance. A total of 15.8 per cent of the teachers misunderstood
the instructions and three stated that all the criteria were equally important. As
Table 5.3 shows, there were also differences across groups (see, for example, the
means for panel chairs (PC) and English teachers (ET) on the first four items and
between these two groups and the CDI officers on items 4, 10 and 11); there was
also wide divergence of opinion within subgroups.

Table 5.3 Relative importance of evaluation criteria (ranking by subgroup)

Table 5.3 Contd.

The fourth column, showing the mean for the entire population, is of course
heavily influenced by the number of teachers relative to the much smaller groups
of panel chairpersons and CDI officers.
The approaches to selection illustrated above are, of course, only examples of
what is a much wider range, but they serve to make three important points: (1)
teachers do not always determine the textbooks they use; (2) selection processes
tend not to be based on systematic examination of the materials; (3) for the most
part, teachers would like to be more fully involved in selection decisions, but be
provided with guidelines to support them in this.

4. Teachers own criteria

The importance attached to specific criteria when selecting a textbook was an
incidental focus of a study in Spain by Sercu, Mendez Garcia and Castro Prieto
(2004) which formed part of an international project investigating the role of
culture in foreign language teaching. The researchers presented 35 teachers with
experience ranging from 2 to 26 years (mean 11.2 years) with a set of criteria and
asked them to tick the six criteria they felt to be most important. No statistics are
given in the report, but the results are shown in Table 5.4, in rank order.

Table 5.4 Criteria used to select coursebooks (by rank order)

Given the researchers particular interest in the cultural component, they were
dismayed to find this ranked only 7. Teachers were perhaps predictably more
influenced by learner factors (1 and 2) and practical considerations (3, 4, 5).
Botelho (2003) also used a criterion-ranking approach to compare the
importance attached to specific criteria by Brazilian (34) and non-Brazilian (27)
teachers of EFL and ESL (see Table 5.5). The majority of the non-Brazilian group
were American, but many had taught in other countries. Seventeen of this group
were NESTs. All the Brazilian teachers had teaching experience in the private
sector and four had taught in colleges and universities; with one exception all had
at least five years experience. The majority of the non-Brazilian group had
experience in ESL contexts; 22 had taught in universities and 14 in state-sector
schools. In general, they were less well experienced: 12 had taught for less than
five years, and three of these for less than a year.
Comparison of the two rank orders shows that both groups attached importance
to the same four categories, but differed in the value they placed on the cultural
dimension of a textbook, the guidance provided, and to a lesser extent the
relative importance of price and author. What is also noticeable, however, is that
when asked what else they considered when choosing textbooks, the groups
mentioned very different criteria (see the final row of the table). The non-
Brazilian group listed more of these additional criteria and apparently attached
more importance to them than some of the given criteria.

Table 5.5 Criteria used to choose textbooks (rank ordered by participant group)

One weakness of the kind of research conducted by Sercu et al. (2004) is that it
relies on criteria supplied by the researchers and ignores the fact that teachers may
also use other criteria which, for them, are equally or even more important.
Provision for the Other category in Botelhos table at least acknowledges that
teachers may operate with criteria other than those anticipated by the researcher;
however, because these cannot be quantified in the same way their real
importance for the group of teachers concerned cannot be established.
Interesting though Botelhos results are, they are inevitably generalizations. A
more fine-grained analysis would have been necessary to show whether there
were any striking differences related to the nature of teachers experience or
between the NESTs and NNESTs in the non-Brazilian group, or whether teachers
with a similar length of experience tend to use the same criteria. Nor were the
participants asked whether in evaluating textbooks they relied on their own
criteria or used some form of evaluation instrument. This would have been a
relevant question because experienced teachers may be reluctant to accept a set of
evaluation guidelines or checklist, feeling that they can rely on their own
intuitions and knowledge of their students.
The Swedish teachers studied by Fredriksson and Olsson (2006), for example,
shared very similar views. For instance, they all saw as important the provision of
a CD for students, and wanted this to include the texts from the students book, a
wish apparently shared by students. They felt that this would allow students to
listen to the texts as often as they liked and be of particular benefit to students
with reading or writing difficulties. A good glossary and a Teachers Guide were
also seen as valuable. The teachers had particularly strong views on texts, and felt
that these should be the principal criterion in selection: [t]he texts have to be
authentic, inspiring and catch the students interest (p.21) through topics which
are absorbing, entertaining and modern (p.22). Teachers own reactions to the
texts were important: one reason for choosing a new textbook was that they as
teachers were tired of the old texts (ibid.). Short stories were preferred to extracts
from novels two teachers felt that it was pointless to talk about texts you
cannot finish reading (p.21). Datedness for example, reference to people with
whom students were unfamiliar and lack of reference to modern technology was
seen as a cause for concern. Other criteria mentioned by the teachers included
visual appeal (use of colour, a fresh and modern impression (ibid.)), suitability
for use with a range of proficiency-levels, and integration of student book and
workbook (seen as practical).
The conclusion reached by the authors is that teachers with some teaching
experience subconsciously know what to look for; nevertheless, not following a
checklist could increase the risk of missing several aspects (p.30).
Xus (2004) interview-based study of six ESL teachers in Canada (cited in
akt, 2006) also sought to ascertain what factors teachers consider when selecting
ESL textbooks. The teachers own criteria are summarized as follows:

Easy-to-access components and content

Developmental progression

Relevant, interesting topics

Canadian content

Variety of activities

Sufficient number of activities on same theme

Provision for mixed-level class
Questions to accompany all readings
Attractive design/layout

Quality of the language used in the coursebook

Quality of editing (Based on Xu, 2004: 23, cited in akt, 2006: 58)

Teachers negative comments on the materials they are expected to use are also
revealing. For example, a small minority of the Indonesian teachers in Jazadis
(2003) study commented on the fact that the materials were biased towards
students living in one part of the country, and towards urban students of a
particular socio-economic level; and the Vietnamese teachers in Tomlinson
(2010b) complained about the lack of relevance in the textbooks they were using.
Lack of relevance, on several counts, also figures in Chandrans (2003) study of
Malaysian teachers. Among the criticisms of Ministry-prescribed textbooks made
by the teachers were that the materials were outdated; the layout was conservative
and dull; the level was inappropriate for the students with low proficiency and
high proficiency; there was insufficient description and practice of grammatical
structures; and they did not provide adequate preparation for the examination.
Commercial workbooks were seen as preferable because they provided what the
Ministry textbooks did not. They were more in synch with learners personal
experiences, ideas, beliefs and interests and attractive and colourful. They
contained graded texts and tasks; elaborate description of structures and . . . a
variety of [practice] activities; and revision exercises related to the demands of
the examination (pp.1656).
Teachers individual criteria also emerged in Wangs (2005) study of
Taiwanese junior high school teachers. The appropriateness of the materials for
students level was felt to be of great importance. As one teacher put it: I would
mainly consider if the textbooks correspond to students proficiency levels . . . If
the textbooks would destroy his confidence . . . You are just using the textbooks
to hurt your students (Teacher 4, cited by Wang, 2005: 84). Another teacher
says: I would look at the layout first. . . . Then I will check if the themes would
appeal to students. Other concerns are the quantity and the sequencing of the
syntactic structures. I will examine if it is logical for students to learn easily. Then
it comes to the ancillary materials last (Teacher 2, cited by Wang, 2005: 85).
Teacher 6 used similar criteria: Its important to have logical sequencing, enough
exercises, attractive layouts, appropriate quantity of the vocabulary, and natural
context to make students acquire the sentences more effectively (ibid.).
Wangs study is also interesting for the insights it yields into teachers feelings
about the books they were currently using. For instance, Teacher 6 wishes that
textbooks for the third year of junior high schools contained more literary and
inspirational texts more articles . . . to cultivate students minds . . . materials
with greater depth and wisdom. I think the textbook could be such kind of leader
and Teacher 5 would like to see a critical dimension: Take the computer as an
example. I suggest that the textbooks should not only talk about its positive sides
but also its negative sides (both cited in Wang, 2005: 72). Teacher 3 is also
concerned about the appropriateness of cultural content:

. . . when we learn English, could we also explore our own culture in English?
For example, we learn another culture through learning their language, Like
Christmas or Halloween. Could we also learn our own culture and the things
that in our daily lives, such as Moon Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, rice-
dumpling or beef-noodle. I think it would interest our students more. I think we
have departed from our own culture. Students wont have the chance to use
English outside the classroom. I mean let the language be our lives, and let the
students have the chance to speak about their native culture in English.
(Teacher cited in Wang, 2005: 71)

The same teacher has difficulty in coping with mixed levels in a class: The
students with high proficiency levels handle the materials very quickly and get
bored because we dont have extra time to offer them more advanced materials,
whereas the low proficiency level students, they just couldnt catch up with their
classmates (Teacher 3, cited by Wang, 2005: 75).
In another interview-based Taiwanese study, Huang (2010) investigated the
criteria used to select coursebooks by 19 EFL teachers in 6 institutes of
technology. These were then compared with criteria found in 19 checklists
published between the 1970s and 2002. The criteria mentioned by the majority of
respondents (i.e. 10 or more) are shown below in rank order:
Coursebooks will:

cater for the four skills (19)

introduce real-life topics (16)

match the vocabulary needs and grammatical level of students (16)

contain a CD-ROM for homework (12)

have clear page layout (12)

have rich resources and information in the Teachers manual (11)

introduce foreign cultures (10)

provide the right amount of content for the time available (10)
be carefully graded (10)

Table 5.6 Teachers context-specific expectations of coursebook packagesn = 19

For the most part, these figure among the criteria to be found in most
coursebook evaluation checklists, which raises an interesting question. If teachers
are already operating with such criteria, do published checklists serve any useful
purpose? The answer perhaps lies in the fact that while all 19 teachers in Huangs
survey agreed that books should cater for the four skills, there was no unanimity
on any of the other criteria. Published checklists make explicit a set of common
standards by which coursebooks can be judged. Moreover, in order to ensure a
reasonable level of comprehensiveness, they contain a wide range of criteria.
There were, however, some differences between the criteria voiced by the
Taiwanese teachers and those in the published checklists. These can be attributed
to the teachers expectations that coursebook packages will (1) meet context-
specific needs and (2) keep pace with technological developments (see Table 5.6).
The study also serves as a practical illustration of the fact that, although existing
checklists can provide a useful basis for materials evaluation and selection, they
need to be subjected to careful scrutiny as to their suitability for a specific context
and customized, a point made in the literature by a succession of writers ranging
from Williams (1983) to Bahumaid (2008).
It will be apparent from the discussion thus far that teachers themselves may
have rather different views about the value of checklists, with some experienced
teachers at least feeling that they are unnecessary. However, a recent paper by
Johnson, Kim, Liu, Nava, Perkins, Smith, Soler-Canela and Wang (2008) makes
an important distinction between experience and training. The researchers, who
point out that empirical studies revealing what experienced textbook evaluators
actually do are rare (p.158), used a think aloud protocol to explore the
approaches adopted by three teachers of the same nationality working in the same
kind of context (university level in China). The three teachers had been selected
for their different levels of experience and training backgrounds: T1 had been
teaching for one year, but had had no prior training of any kind and no experience
of textbook selection; T2 had been teaching for five years, had a Cambridge
ESOL CELTA, and had some experience of textbook selection; T3 had 12 years
experience, a DELTA and a Masters degree incorporating some training in
textbook evaluation, and had been a curriculum coordinator and the leader of a
textbook-writing project. The three teachers were asked to evaluate the teachers
and students books of a recently published textbook for possible use in their own
teaching context. Not surprisingly, T3 was both the most systematic and the most
efficient. As the researchers say, he knew what he was looking for and where to
find it. In fact, he looked at only two units of the students book (4 and 8 out of
14) and compared these with the teachers book. (T2, by comparison, looked
through every page of the first 13 units of the students book before looking at
several units in the teachers book.) Differences in the three teachers approaches
are characterized as follows:

T1: equates the textbook with a script for lessons and prioritizes the teachers
need for survival when evaluating the book.
T2: focuses on the students needs, although it is their immediate needs of
functioning in an English-speaking environment that are of greatest concern.
T3: manages to consider how the textbook fits into a long-term programme of
preparation for academic study and how other teachers might relate to it. Also,
whereas T1 seems to be looking for a textbook packed with activities to cut
short the need for supplementary material, T2, and especially T3, put a high
premium on the jumping off opportunities that a textbook provides. What for
T1 is a lifeline may seem like a straightjacket (sic) for the more experienced
teachers. (Johnson et al. 2008: 1612)

One tentative implication that we might draw from this very small-scale study is
that while experience (and particularly experience of textbook selection in a
specific context) is valuable, it is not a substitute for training in evaluation. What
the last of the quotations above also suggests, however, is that teachers with
different levels of experience may not only have different needs as far as
materials are concerned but also require different kinds of training and support if
they are to evaluate materials for their own teaching.
Teachers in some of the studies reviewed in this chapter would agree with the
basic proposition that support (which is, after all, just one form of training) is
necessary. The Hong Kong school teachers surveyed by Law (1995) were in
almost unanimous agreement that textbook evaluation was necessary. The
majority also wanted to be involved in this, feeling that it is the duty of teachers
to acquire the knowledge and ability to judge textbooks and use them wisely
(p.76). A substantial majority also agreed with the proposition that textbook
evaluation was a means of helping them to develop their professional knowledge
and judgement. Of particular importance for the theme of this chapter was the
view held by over 90 per cent of the teachers, including those who already
claimed to use evaluation criteria or guidelines, that there was a need for a
common set of accessible evaluation guidelines and that these should be
developed by the CDI and teachers working together, a view strongly endorsed by
panel chairs.
Sampsons (2009) survey of teachers in a Hong Kong university language
centre reached a very similar conclusion. The 41 teachers who completed a
questionnaire saw it as their professional duty to evaluate the (institutionally
produced) coursebooks they were using and felt confident of being able to do so.
Interviews with a representative selection of 11 teachers, however, revealed a
rather different picture:

. . . when asked to outline the steps or processes they took when evaluating a
course, the majority were unable to do so. When gently pushed to explain
further, the teachers (except for one) admitted that they followed no clear steps
when evaluating their course materials. . . all teachers stated that they would
welcome a set of evaluation guidelines to help them critically evaluate their
course material. (Sampson, 2009: 197)

5. In-use and post-use evaluation

According to 77 per cent of the respondents in Laws (1995) study of Hong Kong
school teachers, existing textbooks were evaluated retrospectively, at the end of
the year, either in a formal meeting (51%) or by informal discussion. Fredriksson
and Olsson (2006) report that one of the four teachers in their study usually asked
her students to complete a form evaluating the textbook and the other materials
she had used, but no time [was] set aside for such a procedure and [there were]
no [standard] forms to fill in (p.24). Kang (2003, cited in Wang, 2005) reports
that teachers in Taiwanese junior high schools are concerned about the lack of
retrospective evaluation.

6. Summary and conclusions

Tomlinson (1998c: 341) wrote: I have not seen any research which convinces me
that teachers and learners actually want what they are being given by the materials
they are using . . . Nor have I seen any research which demonstrates their
dissatisfaction. As this chapter has demonstrated, there is now a limited amount
of published research which shows what teachers like (and do not like) about
materials or want in them, and Chapter Seven will report on learners reactions to
When materials evaluation is carried out by researchers it may result in changes
being made to the materials (if those in a position to make those changes see the
research and feel inclined to act on it). The kinds of evaluation carried out by
teachers, on the other hand, really can inform action. Evaluation for selection will
determine which materials are chosen, and this decision has important
implications for teachers and learners. Evaluation can also identify weaknesses in
the material which will require the development of further resources. Given its
importance, it is imperative that evaluation for selection purposes be carefully
designed and conscientiously implemented. To judge by the evidence reviewed in
this chapter, this may be the exception rather than the rule.
The paucity of published accounts of in-use and post-use evaluation by teachers
may reflect the much greater emphasis given to evaluation for selection.
However, one form of in-use evaluation is, of course, reflected in teachers
decisions to adapt and/or supplement textbooks. This is the topic of the next

How teachers adapt and supplement coursebooks

It shouldnt be necessary to adapt every page of a coursebook. If every

section needs to be supplemented and adapted, then its a defective or
unsuitable text . . . Too much adapting and supplementing will reduce the
effectiveness of the text, and thus the framework of the course will
become tenuous.
(Teacher cited in Dunford, 2004: 48)
Often an element of play was introduced, as for example, in the UAE where a
child was dressed in baseball cap and sunglasses and given a camera in order to
play a tourist. In Italy, the teacher had a birthday hat which a child wore on
his/her birthday and where the other children offered imaginary presents while
repeating a well-rehearsed dialogue.
(Garton, Copland & Burns, 2011: 15)

1. Introduction
The studies reported in Chapter Five and teachers own personal accounts indicate
that few teachers are wholly satisfied with their coursebooks. However, for
teachers with little experience and no training in textbook use this raises an
awkward question. As a young Taiwanese teacher put it very clearly: Should a
professional teacher follow the coursebook without missing a single page? Or
alternatively, should a good teacher select and modify the content to be more
appropriate to the target learners? (Hsiao, 2010). The point at issue here is what
constitutes professionalism and the nature of a teachers responsibility. Does
professionalism reside, this teacher is asking, in following the script he has been
given, a script prepared by experts, endorsed by the authorities, and visible to the
students with whom it will be used (and, in school contexts, their parents)? Or is
it a matter of making ones own judgement about what is needed and acting
accordingly? If there is a conflict between doing what one is expected to and
doing what one feels is in the best interest of learners, how does one resolve this
conflict? This dilemma can be even more extreme when the book in use focuses
on the development of language skills but the teacher has to prepare learners for a
high-stakes examination, such as a school-leaving/university entrance exam,
which tests knowledge of language systems.
As we saw in Chapters Two to Four, textbook writers, teacher educators and
other commentators are united in their view that teachers should adapt materials,
both those they are given and those they source themselves. Three forms of
adaptation are suggested, omission, addition and change, and guidance is
available both in the Teachers Books accompanying coursebooks and in the
professional literature in the form of examples accompanied by commentaries.
When a lack has been identified, supplementation is also seen as necessary.
Research evidence indicates that curriculum adaptations resulted in language
learning gains and stimulated interest in classroom learning, whereas material
transmission had no such effects (Shawer, Gilmore & Banks-Joseph, 2008: 6).
In this chapter, we consider the extent to which teacher practice appears to be
in line with these expectations. Section 2 looks briefly at whether teachers do, in
fact, adapt their coursebooks. Most do, of course, and Sections 3 and 4
respectively examine their reasons (why) and the most frequent forms of
adaptation (how). Supplementation is discussed in Section 5.

2. Whether teachers adapt and supplement their

To judge by researchers estimates of the percentage of classroom time allocated
to textbook-use, which vary from study to study (e.g. Richards & Mahoney, 1996:
5080%; Jazadi, 2003: 67% all or most of the time; Ravelonanahary, 2007:
20%), teachers do not follow their textbooks blindly. While this may be the case,
in themselves such estimates tell us nothing about what teachers are doing: for
the time that they are using the textbook, they may be following it to the letter, or
they may be using it but adapting it in the ways described in Chapter Three.
Moreover, without information on individual use, such estimates may blur real
differences between teachers with more and less experience and those with and
without training in textbook use and, indeed, between native English speaker
teachers (NESTs) and non-native English speaker teachers (NNESTs). Teachers
beliefs about or attitudes to their role may also play a part.
There is also the issue of whether we can rely on such statistics. Studies of
adaptation and supplementation can be roughly divided into two groups: those
which are based on teacher self-report (e.g. Jazadi, 2003; Lee & Bathmaker,
2007) and those which draw on observational or other evidence (e.g. Richards &
Mahoney, 1996; Tsui, 2003; Zheng & Davison, 2008). The latter are obviously
more reliable, though not without problems as far as data collection and analysis
are concerned. A one-off snapshot is also less dependable and less revealing than
a series of observations. In Sampsons (2009) study, four teachers were each
observed teaching two lessons. In lesson 1, the two inexperienced teachers
reportedly used the textbook 94 and 87 per cent of the time, and in lesson 2 both
used it 97 per cent of the time. The two more experienced teachers used the book
much less and more variably from lesson to lesson, 56 and 62 per cent
respectively in lesson 1 and 15 and 40 per cent in lesson 2.
The question of whether adaptation and supplementation actually happen is, of
course, only one and probably the least interesting aspect of teachers use of
coursebooks. What is of potentially greater interest is how they use the book, why
they choose to adapt/supplement and, with the expectations engendered by
Chapters Two to Four in mind, when, what and how they adapt/supplement.
Whether these actions have any effect is, of course, of just as much interest. These
are the questions to which we now turn.

3. Why teachers adapt and supplement

Various studies have offered insights, general and specific, into why teachers
adapt coursebooks and other materials.
Dunford (2004), for example, carried out a questionnaire-based study of 29
NESTs working for the Shane School of English in Japan, a chain of schools
which use their own textbooks. One question elicited teachers views (and
evaluation) of the specific coursebooks they were using. Table 6.1 (overleaf)
summarizes their responses. Percentages relate to those indicating agreement or
strong agreement with each proposition.
In relation to the manageability of the textbook, Dunford (2004: 36) speculates:
The convenience of the coursebook may be an issue for teachers in terms of their
ability to cover material according to the pacing schedule. For instance, they may
feel that the volume of coursebook material is too great. Respondents also
offered additional reasons for adapting/supplementing the coursebook. Five
referred to the fact that students have individual needs, and one each to the
following: variety is necessary; textbooks do not always provide authentic
language use; the choice of textbook precedes student needs analysis; students
expect creativity from their teachers; updating is necessary. These responses may
be few in number, but it is possible that the views they express would have also
attracted a measure of agreement if they had been included among the multiple-
choice options. One teacher, however, questioned the premise underlying the
question: It shouldnt be necessary to adapt every page of a coursebook. If every
section needs to be supplemented and adapted, then its a defective or unsuitable
text . . . Too much adapting and supplementing will reduce the effectiveness of
the text, and thus the framework of the course will become tenuous (teacher cited
in Dunford, 2004: 48). The 15 per cent who apparently did not adapt the
coursebook did not offer any explanation.

Table 6.1 Teachers reasons for adapting and supplementing their coursebooks
n = 29

Very similar reasons (e.g. increasing interest, possibilities for involvement,

variety, and challenge), seem to have prompted the adaptation and
supplementation decisions of the 30 Chinese trainees studied by Yan (2007)
during the two-week teaching practice component of a one-year Sino-British
teacher education programme held at a university in central China. All teachers
used the same set of coursebooks, but since they were teaching different classes,
who were at different levels of proficiency or moving at different rates, they were
not using exactly the same materials. No further details are provided of the
trainees or the course. Observation of teaching did not form part of the study. The
main research instrument was a questionnaire for the trainees. Trainees lesson
plans and an interview with some students (mentioned only in passing) were
supplementary sources of data. Yan (2007) concludes that the adaptation and
supplementation decisions of the trainees in her study were informed by four

1 The integration of traditional and communicative methods: while all

trainees but one saw the books focus on language systems as an advantage,
and more than a third provided additional language exercises, there was also
evidence, according to Yan, that they tried to balance accuracy-oriented and
fluency-oriented activities (e.g. by reducing on the one hand the number of
grammatical explanations and word-study exercises and the amount of
sentence-translation, and on the other incorporating more opportunities for
studentstudent interaction).
2 Catering for students needs: the wish to stimulate students interest was
advanced as one of the reasons for some of the innovations; a number of
trainees also attempted to cater for students linguistic and intellectual
needs by adjusting the level of difficulty of exercises.
3 Integrating listening and speaking skills into lessons based on reading texts:
this stemmed from the recognition by the majority of the trainees that the
textbook did not provide listening/speaking practice.
4 Meeting their own preferences and needs.

This account includes two points not referred to explicitly by Dunfords

respondents: the wish to balance accuracy-oriented and fluency-oriented
activities, and supplementation in the form of listening/speaking practice.
Tsobanoglous (2008) study of 20 teachers, including four school owners, in
private language schools in Greece consisted of three components: a
questionnaire, interview (seven teachers) and observation (six teachers). Most
were qualified to teach English under Greek law by virtue of a pass in the
Cambridge ESOL Proficiency examination. Eleven had between two and four
years teaching experience, and the remainder at least seven years experience.
Asked if they followed their textbook, 55 per cent said Yes and 35 per cent
More or less. They claimed to omit exercises that appeared to have no clear
purpose and exercises which appeared to provide more practice which they
judged to be unnecessary applying what we might see as a relevance principle.
A further reason for not using the textbook or for adapting it was the need to
stimulate and maintain learners motivation. One teacher said she would
sometimes tell students to keep their books in their bags: Today were not going
to use our books . . . That way she gives them the illusion that . . . they are going
to do things that are more amusing. But in reality they are given a proper lesson
without realizing it and this is very exciting and motivating for them
(Tsobanoglou, 2008: 41). Another teacher says, I cant expect them from the
beginning to the end to stay focused just on the book (p.42). Other reasons
mentioned included the need to provide additional help related to specific student
difficulties with grammar, vocabulary, listening or examination strategies that
is, supplementation based on an assessment of student need.
Relevance and affective considerations were also mentioned by respondents in
Botelhos (2003) questionnaire-based study, which also asked teachers why they
felt textbooks need to be supplemented. The majority of the reasons given related
to the need to facilitate learning and make it more relevant; to reinforce content;
and to keep students interest (e.g. by providing variety). Explaining why she
devises supplementary activities, a teacher cited by Graves (2000: 188) says: My
main concern was to develop activities that would focus on learners needs, give
some control to the students, allow for students creativity and innovation to
enhance students sense of competence and self-worth. Again, although learners
linguistic needs are mentioned, a variety of affective objectives are also specified.
The focus of Grays (2000) questionnaire-based study of 12 teachers in
Barcelona, all NESTs and the majority British, was more restricted. The
teachers nine women and three men ranging in experience from one to 20 years
and all working in the private sector were asked for their reactions to the
cultural content in coursebook reading texts and how they responded if they felt
uncomfortable with this. All stated that they had experienced some misgivings,
citing as reasons stereotypical representations, mainly of Britain and irrelevant,
outdated and sexist content (p.276). For instance, Teacher D describes materials
in a book he had used:

Text about pub culture in England, followed by vocab exercises to do with

alcoholic drinks, how to order your drink, rounds, etc. (There are dozens of
references to drink and pubs throughout the book.)

and why he felt uncomfortable with this:

Was teaching in Cairo, group included number of women wearing hijab, also 2
young Al Azhar students. Material obviously irrelevant, inappropriate probably
offensive to some. Constant references to alcohol seem to imply a culture
obsessed with the stuff didnt feel like having to defend this. (Gray, 2000:

Six of the teachers said that they simply omitted material with which they felt
uncomfortable, five said they adapted it (or would do so), and one failed to
answer this question. The author does not make this explicit, but we can infer that
all the teachers were referring to their teaching of adults and young adults.
The primary reasons for adaptation and supplementation identified in the
professional literature (see Chapter Three, Sections 4.3 and 5.1) were to shape the
materials to suit the context; to compensate for any intrinsic deficiencies; and to
bridge gaps between the materials and learners needs/wants. All of these reasons
are illustrated in the above accounts, but typically as means of maintaining and
increasing learners motivation.

4. Adaptation: when, what, how

4.1 When?
Teachers in training are required to write lesson plans and it is here that one can
expect to see evidence of any intention to diverge from the coursebook script. To
judge by their responses to the questionnaires, all 30 trainees in Yans (2007)
study first evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the textbook. Disadvantages
identified were that the textbook focused on reading and writing, while ignoring
speaking and listening; it was out-of-date; it did not suit students needs; it
provided little variety of activities; and it was language-based (i.e. not oriented
towards skill-development). The trainees then made decisions concerning the
need for adaptation and the type of adaptation necessary on the basis of this
evaluation. Given the number of deficiencies they had found in the materials, it is
not surprising that addition featured as a form of adaptation in all their lesson
plans; in contrast, only eight planned to delete and six to modify elements of
the original material.
In certain forms, adaptation is just as likely to be spontaneous as to be planned,
and in the case of experienced teachers even more likely. For instance, one of the
teachers in Tsobanoglous (2008) study described a change in classroom

The . . . class had a dialogue and it was indicated by the book to divide the class
into pairs and ask them to interact. It is difficult to have the whole class
interacting at the same time, so I chose a couple each time and I asked the rest
of the class to pay attention . . . and actually mark their performance. (Teacher
cited by Tsobanoglou, 2008: 43)

Torress study of teachers use of an ESP textbook in the Philippines, reported in

Hutchinson and Torres (1994), found that:

. . . teachers and learners do not follow the textbook script. Most often teachers
follow their own scripts by adapting or changing textbook-based tasks, adding
new texts or deleting some, changing the management of the tasks, changing
task inputs or expected outputs, and so on. Moreover, what is also clear from
the study is that the teachers planned task is reshaped and reinterpreted by the
interaction of the teacher and learners during the lesson. (Hutchinson &
Torres, 1994: 325, emphasis added)

As the italicized sections illustrate, even a planned adaptation may be adjusted in

response to the dynamics of the classroom. Richards (1998b), who compared the
interactive decisions made by matched groups of experienced and less
experienced teachers, provides further evidence of this. The more experienced
group comprised eight teachers with an average of 9.6 years teaching experience,
all with an RSA Certificate in TEFLA and an RSA Diploma (equivalent to the
current Cambridge qualifications) in addition to other academic qualifications
such as a first degree or a Masters degree. The less experienced group of eight
had an average of 1.6 years experience; one had a professional teaching
certificate and the rest an RSA certificate. All were teaching either general
English or business writing at the British Council in Hong Kong and using
commercial textbooks or materials provided by the British Council. Each teacher
was observed twice and provided the observer with a lesson plan and their
teaching materials. The lesson plans provided by the experienced teachers tended
to be much briefer. No recordings were made, but teachers were interviewed
immediately after their lessons and asked to report what major changes they had
made from their lesson plans. The types of interactive decision made were then
categorized and quantified (see Table 6.2).

Table 6.2 Interactive decisions made during lessons

What is immediately apparent is that, if we exclude the first category (Timing),

where lack of experience probably contributed to poor estimates of the time
needed for activities, the experienced teachers made twice as many interactive
decisions (a total of 34, as compared to 17), indicating that they were much more
flexible. Many of these decisions appear to have involved adding to or developing
(elaborating) what had been planned. This flexibility may derive from the
possession of a wider repertoire of options or the confidence that comes with
experience knowing how to deal with a problem one has encountered before.
We have no way of knowing whether the decisions made by either group were
appropriate or effective. What is clear, however, is that the experienced teachers
were more responsive to their learners and the evolving situation, and the less
experienced were either less aware of the need to modify the materials or their
lesson plan, perhaps because more focused on the material than the learners, or
less capable of responding to the demands of the situation. Richards summarizes
the similarities and differences between the two groups as a set of maxims, or
working principles. Maxims used more often by the less experienced, he suggests,
include cover your lesson plan, whereas those used more often by the more
experienced include build on students difficulties (p.117).
The observational component of Sampsons (2009) study, which was also
carried out in Hong Kong and also compared experienced and less experienced
teachers, was smaller in scale, but introduced another dimension in that it was
designed to investigate the influence on teachers use of materials of their first
language (English vs Cantonese). The teachers in this case were all working in the
same university language centre. Four teachers were selected from a larger
number who had been involved in other stages of the study and each was
observed twice in the course of a week. Two were NESTs, of whom one was
inexperienced and the other experienced, and two were native speakers of
Cantonese, that is, NNESTs again, one inexperienced, and one experienced. All
four were using the same section of an institutionally produced English language
coursebook for students of Business which made use of case studies. The
researcher used an observation schedule to collect data during the classes and then
conducted post-observation interviews. The differences that emerged are shown
below, in Table 6.3. For present purposes, the numbers assigned to the individual
teachers have been changed: T1 here is the inexperienced NEST (NEST-I), T2 the
inexperienced NNEST, T3 the experienced NEST (NEST-E) and T4 the
experienced NNEST. L1/2 = Lesson 1 or Lesson 2.
Again, some of the differences can be clearly seen. For instance, T3 and T4, the
more experienced teachers, used less of the coursebook material than the
inexperienced teachers; they spent large portions of the second lesson on activities
they had devised themselves (and used before); and they took care to build in
links to previous lessons. But even apparent similarities may conceal differences.
The table shows that in Lesson 1 all four teachers introduced the case study and
discussed assessment, but T1 only did so after 25 minutes, when prompted by a
student question. Differences were also seen in classroom management. While the
inexperienced teachers tended to have all students do each task, the more
experienced teachers had students work on different tasks and then pool the
feedback. Inexperience also showed in time-management. In Lesson 1, T1 only
managed to do a little more than half of what had been planned and T2, who had
planned to do less, still had to curtail the final activity and forego the planned
wrap-up in Lesson 1; T4, by contrast, simply adjusted the time spent on activities
in order to fit in what had been planned.

Table 6.3 Differences between four teachers working with the same materials
As we can see from these examples, improvized adaptation frequently
manifests itself in the omission or curtailing of exercises or activities for reasons
of time-management and in decisions to change classroom management
procedures to use pairwork rather than groupwork, for example, or to modify
the planned approach to feedback. We have therefore already begun to look at
both what teachers adapt and how they adapt. In the next two sections, we
examine these aspects of adaptation in more detail.
4.2 What?

On the basis of the professional literature (see Chapter 3, Section 4.4), teachers
might be expected to adapt four main aspects of materials: language (the
language of instructions, explanations, examples, the language in exercises and
texts and the language learners are expected to produce); process (forms of
classroom management or interaction stated explicitly in the instructions for
exercises, activities and tasks and also the learning styles involved); content
(topics, contexts, cultural references); or level (linguistic and cognitive demands
on the learner) (see Table 6.4). As the table demonstrates, these expectations are
confirmed by accounts of teacher practice.

Table 6.4 Foci of adaptation

4.3 How?

4.3.1 Selection and omission

Strictly speaking, selection is not a form of adaptation since it implies use without
change. It is, however, the result of an evaluative decision. It reflects the fact that
the material selected is seen to have value, to be important or useful or interesting
or all of these. Logically, moreover, it also entails omission and this is a form of
adaptation, as discussed in Chapter Three.
When a coursebook is used as a basic resource in course-planning, selection
may involve deciding which units or lessons of the coursebook to use; at the level
of lesson planning, selection relates to texts, activities, exercises and possibly to
parts of these. The Chinese teacher trainees in Yans (2007) study chose to omit
some of the accuracy-focused material, grammatical explanations and word-study
exercises and sentence-translation. In Sampsons (2009) study, the more
experienced teachers omitted more exercises at the planning stage than the
inexperienced; they also chose to set certain exercises/activities as homework.
The less experienced, in contrast, were obliged to omit or curtail exercises simply
because they ran out of time (see also the findings of Richards, 1998b, in Table
Grays (2000) study of 12 NESTs reactions to the cultural content in
coursebooks has already been referred to. As part of the study, the teachers were
asked for their reactions to a specific text from the Cambridge English Course,
Book 1 (Swan & Walter, 1994: 52), which includes an extract from a girls diary
describing what she did the previous evening and a dialogue with her father in
which she presents a completely different account of events. (This material was
modified somewhat in a later edition.) The majority of the teachers felt that it was
inappropriate for their classrooms and said they would not use it (embarrassing;
represents a (mercifully) tiny sector of British society; seems to be showing
British teenagers to be deceitful/drunken, etc. (and many are) but having it in a
book like this condones the behaviour; a very liberal attitude to childrearing
especially of girls unthinkable in many cultures where girls wouldnt be allowed
out unsupervised). Of the three who said they would use it, two saw it as light-
hearted and humorous no doubt the intention of the authors and the third
thought it might stimulate discussion of stereotypes based on students own
experiences. Gray makes the point that, faced with what they feel to be
inappropriate cultural material, half of the teachers in this small group would just
reject (censor) it out of hand. The question is why? Is it easier to censor than to
adapt? Or do language teachers always see cultural content as merely incidental,
and always secondary to linguistic aims? (p.278). In the case of this group, he

It is possible that, as a consequence of their [Dip TEFLA] training and the

context in which they work, they see themselves as technicists rather than
educators, as being essentially specialists trained to develop language skills
only. Pennycook (1994) suggests that the commercialization of ELT has had
precisely this effect on teachers perceptions of themselves, and that it serves to
perpetuate the notion of language teaching practices as value free. (Gray, 2000:

There are, after all, alternatives to censorship. One (see 4.3.3, below), described
by Teacher D, is replacement; another is critical engagement with the material, as
exemplified by two of the other teachers. Teacher C recalled: I think I followed it
up by asking if stereotypes were true reflection (sic) of a people/culture, and
Teacher E, similarly: Told them it was stereotypical/laughed about it got them
to tell me why/their point of view (p.278).

4.3.2 Adaptation as addition

Chapter Three differentiated between a number of different forms of what was
referred to as adaptation as addition. One of these is the exploitation or
(expansion) of, for instance, a text or topic in a coursebook. The follow-ups just
quoted are examples. In addition to allowing the teachers to distance themselves
from the material, these also offered an opportunity for learners to express their
own views (thus illustrating the principle of personalization). Expansion may also
be used to increase local appeal. Writing of coursebook-based lessons that he had
observed in Indonesia, Zacharias (2005) notes that instead of simply discussing
the dating systems in English-speaking countries as presented in the book, one
teacher compared these with those in Indonesia. Another teacher extended pre-
speaking activities in a class on asking for forgiveness: Before following the
activities in the book, she asked the class when and how Indonesians asked for
and offered forgiveness (pp.323). As these examples demonstrate, coursebook
materials can be developed in either direction (by adding a pre-stage or a post-
stage) or both. The individual teachers in Richards and Mahoney (1996)
spontaneously adapted the material in a variety of further ways: they clarified
rubrics, gave additional examples, expanded on grammar explanations in the
textbook, told personal anecdotes and made jokes; and the experienced teachers in
Richards (1998b) showed similar flexibility (see Table 6.2).

4.3.3 Adaptation as change

In Chapter Three, adaptation as change was discussed in relation to procedures

and principles. We have already seen some examples of change. The experienced
teachers in Sampsons (2009) study reordered material, and Teacher D in Grays
(2000) study, who dropped the material on alcohol . . . but retained the functional
language the text was supposed to teach (p.277), provides an example of
replacement: [I] changed the situation from pub to school cafeteria found a
tape with similar language that didnt mention alcohol (ibid.). Zacharias (2005)
refers to replacement and simplification motivated by students difficulties with
the cultural content of global textbooks and their rather difficult language: they
often needed to modify or even change completely the examples or texts used in
the materials (p.31). He adds: I witnessed many instances in which the teachers
modified the materials to suit their learners (ibid.), but unfortunately gives no
examples. Ravelonanahary (2007) lists a number of ways in which teachers in
Madagascar adapted coursebooks. These seem to have included localization
(adapting texts to the Malagasy reality we are not told how), simplification
(making texts more comprehensible by using simpler vocabulary or including
pictures; abridging/summarizing the text; and explaining concepts in Malagasy or
French, when necessary); and complexification (making activities more
challenging). Change can also be more radical, as in information transfer from
one text type to another (conversion). Some of the Chinese trainees in Yan (2007)
adapted the text into a play for students to perform, some modified it into a table,
some changed dialogues into a roleplay.
Medgyes (1994) carried out a questionnaire-based study of 325 teachers in 11
countries which indicated that NNESTs use coursebooks but NESTs use a variety
of materials. A follow-up observation study in Hungary (Arva & Medgyes, 2000)
revealed that while this may be true up to a point, the focus of a teachers lesson
(e.g. a grammar-focused lesson vs a conversation class) may be an important
factor. The NNESTs in the study did indeed use textbooks, but drew on up to four
books in one lesson, and the NESTs assigned conversation classes designed their
own material in the form of newspaper cutouts, posters and worksheets. Students
were also required to prepare materials for the projects they were going to
present (p.365). The single NEST who was teaching a grammar lesson used a
Richards and Mahoney (1996) conducted an observation-based study in Hong
Kong of seven secondary school teachers (all graduates, average 4.5 years
experience). Findings, based on a single recorded lesson of approximately 40
minutes taught by each teacher, are shown in a table and summarized as follows:

. . . none of the teachers taught exclusively from the textbook, and none
devoted the entire lesson to material from the textbook. Each of the teachers
made use of additional materials as part of the lesson, and made a variety of
decisions both prior to and during the lesson which subsequently shaped the
lesson. These decisions included developing activities as a lead in to the lesson,
making links with previous learning, choosing aspects of the unit to use and to
omit, following up on students questions, giving advice on strategies to use . . .
in completing tasks, giving follow-up drills based on students grammatical and
pronunciation errors, and providing vocabulary work. (Richards & Mahoney,
1996: 53)

They add:

There were clear examples in each case of the teacher making personal,
interactive decisions about the use of the textbook or setting [it] aside
altogether for sections of the lesson. It seemed that in each case it was the
teacher who was in charge of the textbook. (Richards & Mahoney, 1996: 60)

On the basis of the observations and a complementary questionnaire-based survey

of 326 teachers, the same authors draw the following conclusions:

It can . . . be seen that the majority of teachers do not slavishly follow the
dictates of the textbook. There was strong evidence to show that teachers chose
not to follow the stated order or methodology of the textbooks, or to use all the
available tasks, activities and exercises provided in the book. Most teachers
made their own decisions about omitting sections of the textbook or modifying
or supplementing what was already there. It was also clear that many teachers
were involved in making their own materials to supplement the textbook they
were using. Many also used textbooks in tandem with other textbooks, using a
mosaic of textbooks to meet their teaching needs. There was also clear
evidence that many teachers abandoned textbooks altogether for certain lessons
when, for example, focusing on a particular topic of interest or using authentic
materials. Use of the teachers book showed that it was being used not as a
guide, or as a set of lesson plans but more as a convenience to save time,
primarily in the use of the answer key. (Richards & Mahoney, 1996: 5960)

5. Supplementation
Teachers reasons for supplementing a textbook were discussed in Section 3. Here
our focus is mainly on how they supplement. As is the case with adaptation,
information comes from both individual studies and large surveys, and is variable
in its reliability.
Supplementary materials come from a variety of sources. In Indonesia, teachers
are expected to use one of three approved Ministry-produced textbook series.
Nevertheless, Jazadis (2003) survey of 106 school teachers, each representing
their schools, found that 74 per cent claimed to use textbooks published by private
publishers sometimes and 11 per cent most or all of the time, the
corresponding figures for self-developed materials being 63 and 13 per cent
respectively. Other resources used sometimes included realia (56%), materials
from magazines (41%), brochures and pamphlets (37%), newspapers (35%),
audio cassettes accompanying coursebooks other than those prescribed (32%) and
coursebooks from other countries (25%). All other resources were used only
sometimes by 20 per cent or fewer of the respondents. The Malaysian teachers
described by Chandran (2003), most of whom used commercial workbooks in
preference to national textbooks, very rarely or never designed their own
materials, as they felt there was no need for such a daunting and tiring task
While what is used may depend in part on what is available, the teacher will
also be guided by a sense of what is appropriate. In Lee and Bathmakers (2007)
survey of 23 teachers of vocational students in Singaporean secondary schools,
the two most frequent forms of supplementation were self-developed materials
and past exam papers (used as core materials by two teachers and as
supplementary materials by the rest). Hayashis (2010) study of a Japanese
secondary school teacher, which drew on a variety of data sources, includes plans
for six consecutive lessons, all of which were observed. Only two of the lessons
were based on the coursebook (which was used primarily to practise
pronunciation, by repetition after the tape, and translation). In the remaining four
lessons, students completed grammar worksheets individually. The teacher then
asked for answers/translation and gave explanations when necessary. We might
compare this with an approach to coursebook use described in Acklam (1994), in
which the teacher was almost certainly teaching young adults in a private
language school in the United Kingdom. Acklams short paper reproduces a two-
page lesson on physical description from a coursebook and the teachers lesson
notes for three lessons based on this material. The coursebook materials contained
six exercises, plus reading and writing components. An analysis of the planning
decisions made by the teacher for the first of the three lessons is shown in Table

Table 6.5 Summary of teachers planning decisions

For Lessons 2 and 3, the teacher selected Exercise 4 from the book and adapted
Exercises 5 and 6. She replaced the Reading and Writing sections with her own
activities, and supplemented the book material with further listening and speaking
activities. Her planned lessons thus admirably illustrate the kind of approach
advocated in much of the professional literature: she stayed true to the linguistic
objectives of the material (i.e. the focus on physical description), using two of the
original exercises and adapting four others, but also supplemented the original
material by incorporating warm-up activities and additional skills practice.
The trainees in Yan (2007) similarly added warm-up activities and skills
practice, as well as background information . . . group work and reading
comprehension questions. Ravelonanahary (2007) notes that teachers introduced
communicative activities around relevant topics (role play, information gap) and
included games, songs and pronunciation activities whenever possible. A recent
major survey of 4700 teachers of young learners in 144 countries on all five
continents (Garton, Copland & Burns, 2011) indicated that in addition to
traditional activities, such as repetition after the teacher, reading aloud, gap-fill
exercises and memorization, teachers frequently used games (69.9%) and songs
(66.9%). Also mentioned were performance and drama activities, including
children performing actions to songs; the use of Total Physical Response; and
drawing and colouring activities. Other interesting and less predictable activities
. . . include children carrying out surveys and interviews, giving presentations
(from five-minute show and tell activities to reports of research projects), art
and craft work, dance, activities outside class (from picnics in the playground to
sightseeing trips) and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) work
(p.12). The survey authors also conducted observations of five teachers in
different countries. Examples of supplementation involving three of the teachers
are described in the following quotation:

. . . the teacher in Colombia . . . made great effort to enliven the teaching of

grammatical items by introducing engaging communicative activities. In
particular, he used music and songs, visuals and word puzzles to appeal to the
children and maintain their attention. Often an element of play was introduced,
as for example, in the UAE where a child was dressed in baseball cap and
sunglasses and given a camera in order to play a tourist. In Italy, the teacher
had a birthday hat which a child wore on his/her birthday and where the other
children offered imaginary presents while repeating a well-rehearsed dialogue.
(Garton et al., 2011: 15)

An example of how teachers build supplementation into a textbook-based lesson

can be seen in Gravess (2000: 188) description of Simone Machado Camillo, a
teacher at a language institute in Brazil. Simone categorizes the supplementary
activities as follows:

warm up activity (usually based on previous topics; can therefore be

considered as review rather than preview)
presentation activity (based on new topic preparatory; books closed)

practice activity (after presentation; before or after bookwork; intended for

meaningful practice in realistic context)
consolidation activity (after practice; reinforcement or review; usually a
Younger learners, in her experience, appeared to enjoy these activities. However,
she had found that young adults showed some resistance to non-book-based and
less conventional classroom activities. Graves (2000: 191) emphasizes Simones

Simones belief in the importance of student participation as a vehicle for

learning motivated her to adapt the textbook to provide more opportunities for
interaction. She personalized the activities so that they would be more relevant
to the students. Each activity challenged the students to think about the
meaning of a given statement or response. The activities were structured so that
students would interact with each other. In some cases, she bypassed the book
activity entirely. Her understanding of what her students needed in order to be
able to participate in these activities feeling at ease, understanding why they
were being asked to work in this way was a key factor in the success of her

In addition to two of the more common features of adaptation (modification of

classroom management to provide for more interaction, and personalization to
increase relevance), Graves again highlights Simones concern for affective
factors (understanding of what her students needed in order to be able to
participate in these activities feeling at ease, understanding why they were being
asked to work in this way).
The Greek teachers in Tsobanoglou (2008) all said that they provided
supplementary practice in grammar and vocabulary. Skills supplementation was
less uniform, speaking and writing being more commonly supplemented than
listening and reading. Twelve of the 20 teachers (60%) stated that they used
authentic materials and six that they used other coursebooks, grammar books and
supplementary skills books. The school owners interviewed said they subscribed
to English language magazines and that these were used in advanced classes for
reading practice and as an input to discussion; lower-level classes might use them
as a resource for project work. One of the teachers interviewed used completed
student projects as examples for other students or as an input to discussion on a
specific topic: It is better than using a poster as it looks more approachable to the
students eyes due to the fact that it was made by people that were in the same age
as them and they had almost the same level of English (p.45). Other examples of
supplementation mentioned included taking students to the computer room to use
a popular computer game (The Sims), but asking learners to describe to each
other the actions of the heroes using Present Simple and Present Continuous; and
tense revision based on the fairy story Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Like Simone, the teachers in Tsobanoglous study had also reflected on the
suitability of supplementary materials for different levels and age groups. Some
teachers argued, for example, that students preparing for examinations needed
additional practice; and some also believed that advanced level students have a
better understanding of the need to go beyond the textbook. An alternative view
was that learners at lower levels and young learners respond better to realia
(though this need not imply supplementary materials in general). The four most
experienced teachers observed (15+ years experience) stated that they often
began a lesson without making use of the books. This was confirmed by the
Many of the questions posed in the course of this chapter (why? what? how?)
were explored in Johanssons (2006) small-scale interview-based study of three
teachers and six of their students in Swedish upper-secondary schools. One of the
teachers, given the pseudonym Alice, only used what Johansson calls alternative
materials, that is, materials other than a coursebook in this case, authentic
materials and those Alice had devised herself. Alice explains that her aim is
above all to create variation, enthusiasm among the students and curiosity,
because no lesson is the same and the students appreciate this, they always write
this in evaluations . . . tailoring the material to make it suit the group, even if they
are heterogeneous, it is possible . . . creating material that is up to date, feels
relevant and also to colour the material depending on what [vocational]
programme a student has chosen (Johansson, 2006: 14). The other two teachers,
Conrad and Conny, both male, used a combination of coursebook and alternative
materials. Conrad makes considerable use of material from the internet, but also
uses films as a basis for discussion, song lyrics and newspaper articles. Conny
makes less use of the internet, justifying this by saying he wishes to make
students aware of other sources of material; he makes more use of novels and
their film equivalents and newspaper articles. The three teachers also commented
on the relationship between their choice of materials and students level. Alice felt
that beginners need structure and coursebooks provide this. At higher levels:

As long as the students are motivated and convinced that alternative material
can be fun and interesting, it works very well. However, weak and lazy
students are more difficult to motivate since they depend on the structure found
in coursebooks. They also have trouble understanding the relevance of
alternative materials and that it counts as course material just like coursebooks
do. (Johansson, 2006: 13)

Similarly, Conrad felt that weak students may find working with alternative
material too difficult. It is often possible, he notes, to simplify instructions; but
project work, in which they are expected to exercise independence, may be
difficult for them to handle since they prefer structure to autonomy (Johansson,
2006: 16). The experienced Swedish teachers in Fredriksson and Olssons (2006)
study said that the extent to which they use their coursebook would vary
according to the nature of the students: with a creative class they might work less
with the book, whereas for students with a lower level of proficiency the book
would provide more structure and security.
When students are living and studying in an English-speaking country, other
factors come into play. The young adults studying in Manchester, United
Kingdom, who were interviewed as part of Shawer et al.s (2008) study, seem to
have been strongly in favour of their teachers using authentic materials. The
students comments and observed classroom behaviour (and attendance) provide
firm evidence that in this context supplementation using authentic materials had a
positive effect on students motivation, and the converse, that reliance on a
textbook and the failure to use such materials had a negative effect on motivation.
Softer evidence is also offered in the form of student self-report and observers
impressions for improved language learning.
6. Summary and conclusions
Richards and Mahoneys (1996) conclusion to their study of Hong Kong
teachers a study based on a large questionnaire sample and a small observation
sample is that Teachers are looking at textbooks critically and they are
maintaining a reasonable autonomy from them (p.60). This might serve as a
balanced summary of the studies surveyed in this chapter. It is, however, a
generalization, and like all generalizations it conceals almost as much as it
reveals. Very few studies, for example, give us any insight into whether
individual teachers deploy a range of adaptation techniques, nor do we gain any
insight into how teachers learn to adapt is this simply a matter of instinct and
personal experience, do they learn through informal means such as exchange with
colleagues, or is this an effect of training? In Shawer et al.s (2008) study, there
appears to be no obvious correlation between the teachers approach to textbooks
and their experience, professional training, or the level of students they were
teaching. The fact is, of course, that teachers differ just as much as their students,
and although institutional and other pressures may in many cases dictate what
they do, they use materials in individual ways. Yans (2007) study of Chinese
trainees is illustrative:

. . . although they all deleted some language exercises, the deleted parts
differed. Most of them added some language exercises, but they highlighted
different foci. Many of them added warm-up activities at the beginning of the
lesson, but their foci were varied: some focused on the vocabulary, and some
on the topics. Several trainees modified the text to some extent, but the forms
were diversified, either a table, a drama, or a roleplay.

Considerations of space and balance unfortunately prevent discussion of any

further examples of adaptation and supplementation (see, however, the detailed
descriptions of teachers in Tsui (2003), Zheng & Davison (2008) and Shawer et
al. (2008)). The influence of individual characteristics is also well captured in
Katzs (1996) analysis of the teaching styles of five writing teachers, four of
whom were using the same material.
We now turn to learners reactions to materials and their teachers.

Learner perspectives

A coursebook is an angry barking dog that frightens me in a language I

dont understand.
(Learner cited in McGrath, 2006: 176)
Our English teacher is terrible, she/he always reads a book to us.
(Hu, 2010: 61)

1. Introduction
The suggestion that learners be involved in materials evaluation (Chapter Three)
has been heeded in the kinds of coursebook evaluation studies reported in Chapter
Five and by teachers such as those studied by Johansson (2006), but Tomlinson
(2010b) notes that in his own survey of 12 countries on behalf of a publisher not
one learner reported having any say in the selection of their coursebook (p.5,
emphasis added).
As for the less controversial call that teachers should take learners into account
by adapting and supplementing materials, there is some reassuring evidence that
supplementation in particular is appreciated by learners themselves. However,
much of this evidence is second-hand, in the form of teacher reports on student
reactions. For instance, the trainees in Yans (2007) study made the following
comments on learners responses to adaptation and supplementation of the

It really did work! When the students discussed the topic, most of them could
say something related to their own study. When they presented their ideas,
every group reported voluntarily.
. . . my students felt interested and a lot of fun. They felt they could learn a lot
by playing in this way.
The students seemed to like this kind of activity. They were all involved. They
liked to share ideas with each other.
Providing background information helped the students understand the text and
made them interested. The students showed great interest in practising the
provided exercises in class. (Yan, 2007: 45)

These reports reflect the trainees perceptions of students responses; we do not

know exactly what the students actually thought about the materials and activities
or, indeed, how variable their responses were.
A similar point might be made about isolated quotations from individual
students. Block (1991) notes that the personal touch in teacher-generated
materials is highly appreciated by students: When students realize that the
teacher has gone outside the course book and prepared something personally, they
make remarks such as Oh, you work hard (p.214); and Ramrez Salas (2004: 6)
similarly comments: I have . . . . received comments like, Youre very creative
or You really like what you do because you have such beautiful materials.
While such comments are certainly gratifying, teachers have to resist the
temptation to bask in the warm glow of students appreciation and make the effort
to find out how learners in general feel about the materials, and in particular
whether they are interesting/fun, and useful feedback which can be used to
inform materials and activity selection and revision. This point applies, in fact, to
all the materials teachers use, and not just teacher-made materials.
Section 2 surveys a small number of studies which have attempted to explore
learners perspectives on materials, either as a main focus or incidentally. Section
3 reports on learners responses to being involved in developing materials or
using materials other learners have devised.

2. Learners responses to coursebooks and authentic


2.1 Learners and coursebooks

The Filipino learners in Torress PhD study saw the textbook as a helpful guide
or framework which helped them to learn better, faster, clearer (sic), easier
(sic), more (Hutchinson & Torres, 1994: 318), both in class and out of class.
The learners in three of the retrospective evaluation studies reviewed in
Chapter Five were, by comparison, less enthusiastic. The Korean university
students in Litzs (2005) study of a global textbook were only moderately
satisfied (mean of 6 on a scale of 110) with the appropriateness of the material
for their level, the extent to which it focused on their skills needs, and its
relevance. The Ministry-produced textbooks in the studies of akt (2006) and Al-
Yousef (2007) met with more negative reactions, akts Turkish learners finding
the materials lacking in interest and unappealing in appearance, and Al-Yousefs
Saudi boys being critical of the supplementary materials and the treatment of
There is no pattern in the findings of the latter three studies, but this is not
surprising. The researchers used different questionnaires and their purpose, after
all, was to evaluate the materials rather than discover what learners want from
materials. We might infer from the findings that, for example, the kind of school-
age Saudi learners studied by Al-Yousef expect the phonological features of
English to be introduced and practised systematically or that interest and visual
appeal are important criteria for the Turkish learners studied by akt, but these
could just be products of the research instruments employed; and we have no way
of knowing how significant these points are for the learners concerned, relative to
other aspects of the materials.
What we can infer from such studies is that learners are capable of evaluation.
They do not always opt for the same point on a scale. They discriminate. Given
the opportunity, they can make judgements which may sometimes surprise their
teachers. They can, for instance, spot the fake and the irrelevant, as the following
quotation illustrates:

Schon wieder so ein dummes bungsgesprch [Another stupid practice

conversation] (a young German learner referring to touristpoliceman dialogue
in an elementary secondary school textbook, cited in Jolly & Bolitho, 2011:

They can also make qualitative judgements about their learning experiences:

Ive been four times in England in different courses: I attended courses in Italy
but they were academic courses I mean we had a timetable which included
writing, speaking, listening exercises and nothing was left to the personal
(students or teachers) imagination. On the other hand this course I have just
done comprehend all the basiliar skills [contained all the basic skills] but
everything is done with the purpose of making students collaborate with
teachers. (Caterina, 2003)

This Italian teenager, who had just completed a summer course in the United
Kingdom, has understood that language learning need not be just a dry, cognitive,
academic exercise. There can be scope for imaginative exploration and other
kinds of studentteacher relationship than that she had previously experienced.
She has also come to realize that in certain circumstances students needs may be
better served if a textbook is not used:
This English course was, for me, a new experience. . . . the choice of having no
textbook was really right. When you have a book you are forced to follow it
and often you forget what are the real needs of the students. . . . Without any
book you can work on any subject that would interest the class, sniffing
different books, if it is necessary. (ibid.)

Relevance is a key concern for both teachers and learners. Yakhontova (2001)
elicited the written views of Ukrainian doctoral and MA students on the EAP
textbook Academic Writing for Graduate Students (Swales & Feak, 1994).
Although generally enthusiastic about the non-ethnocentric nature of the book,
students professed to being a little surprised that the only reference to Slavic
culture was one sentence devoted to the Russian language and slightly
disappointed about this lacuna (p.7).
Lack of cultural relevance was just one of the criticisms made by a minority of
respondents in Ravelonanaharys (2007) survey of students attitudes to their
coursebooks in Madagascar. These students said that the activities in the
coursebook were difficult. The texts were often long, difficult and did not relate to
their social and cultural environment. The grammatical exercises did not prepare
them to take the final examination (p.172).
As Duarte and Escobar (2008) point out, when learners feel negatively about
their coursebook this is likely to affect their motivation. They surmised that their
students, who were following a compulsory intensive English course at a
Colombian university, might be more motivated if the materials they used had
local relevance. With this in mind, they adapted extracts from global coursebooks.
As reported by the researchers, students positive comments referred to the
provision of opportunities for free and spontaneous communication, creativity in
language use and the localization of the materials through real-life situations and
familiar and interesting topics. The following translated comments testify to
students appreciation of the local dimension:
It allows the use of necessary expressions, adapted to our culture.

Local materials motivate language learning. They boost better comprehension

of the language in all its areas: grammar, speaking, listening, etc. (Duarte &
Escobar, 2008: 71)

2.2 Coursebooks and teachers

McGrath (2006) conducted a study in Hong Kong which asked secondary school
teachers and their students to supply similes or metaphors to complete the
statement: A coursebook is . . .. One of the most powerful negative images
produced by the learners was quoted at the beginning of this chapter (A
coursebook is an angry barking dog that frightens me in a language I do not
understand). In fact, the images ranged from the very positive to the very
negative, as can be seen in Table 7.1. It will be clear from the positive images that
learners respect coursebooks (see the Authority images) and value them both for
what they contain and for the benefits they can bestow. In some cases, the book is
even anthropomorphized (e.g. my mother, my friend; but note also the
negative equivalents, for example, a devil, a professional killer).

Table 7.1 A thematic classification of learner images for English-language

The negative images capture the sense of a coursebook as something boring
(or, worse, toxic), useless, a burden or something that induces fear.
Kesen (2010) used a similar approach to the elicitation of metaphors from 150
adult Turkish learners on a preparatory English course in a university in Cyprus.
A total of 57 different metaphors were produced, the most frequently occurring
being foreign country (18), puzzle (12) and guide (12). Based in part on learners
explanations, the metaphors were then grouped into 15 categories. In Table 7.2,
which combines data from two tables in Kesens paper, frequency is indicated by
f and the themes with negative connotations have been elaborated to show the
metaphors used.

Table 7.2 Learner metaphors for coursebooks

Although referring briefly to McGraths study, Kesen rather surprisingly does

not offer any comparison between either the research methodology or the findings
of the two studies. Leaving aside such issues as categorization, and the fact that
Kesens study produced quantified results whereas McGrath simply offers
examples of his categories, what is evident is that both studies found substantial
evidence of negative feelings towards coursebooks. These constitute 61 per cent
of the total number of metaphors in Kesen and 44.5 per cent of the examples
given by McGrath.
Kesens informants noted that metaphors such as continent and mountain
referred to the quantity of information to be acquired, and flood and hurricane
to their feelings of being overwhelmed they got lost and found themselves in
failure (p.114). Metaphors grouped under Difficulty are similarly fairly
transparent (the difficulty of reaching a star, eating sushi, bringing up a baby);
puzzle captured the common feeling (12 occurrences) that coursebooks were
confusing and difficult to deal with. No explanations are offered for the Fear
metaphors, but perhaps none are needed. McGrath notes that some images in his
sample could not be classified because they represented mixed feelings (e.g. A
coursebook is [like] white bread which can allay my hunger . . . but is tasteless
and A coursebook is a bee hive which has sweet honey and a lot of painful
stings); others (e.g. a mouth of a well, a childs stick, a clumsy clown) were
simply impenetrable without an explanation, and none was supplied.
Kesen sees the negative images as an important reason for taking learner
attitudes into account when selecting coursebooks. McGraths conclusion goes
further. Pointing out that in his comparison of teacher and learner images the
teacher images were predominantly positive, with only one negative category
(Constraint), he suggests that learners negative attitudes might be due either to
the selection of an inappropriate coursebook or to the way in which the teacher
uses the book.
This distinction between materials and teaching method is clear in Hus (2010)
characterization of Chinese learners responses to their teachers: My English
teacher is very good. She/he makes the learning interesting, we like English class
very much and Our English teacher is terrible, she/he always reads a book to
us, we dislike her/him (p.61, emphasis added). Students expect their teachers to
be more than simple transmission agents; they expect them just as coursebook
writers do to breathe life into the material. Hu comments: After hearing the
students comments, some English teachers who are dissatisfied with their
performance are trying to improve their teaching skills, but they do not know how
. . . and some teachers cant accept unfavourable comments at all, thinking they
are wronged, misjudged by their students (ibid.). One might conclude that both
types of teachers would clearly benefit from further training.
Training does not necessarily affect teachers use of textbooks, however, as is
clear from Shawer et al.s (2008) study of 10 British teachers who were teaching
international classes of young adults in colleges in Manchester. Based on 1522
observations per teacher, individual interviews with teachers and group interviews
with students, the researchers assigned teachers to one of three groups. The
curriculum transmitters (2) followed the textbook, whereas the curriculum
developers (5) and curriculum makers (3) adapted and supplemented their
textbooks to varying degrees. Learners commented negatively on the lessons of
the two curriculum transmitters, Terry and Mary. One of Terrys students said:
Terry shouldnt teach everything in the textbook, because some parts are not
necessary. He should teach only whats related because, for example, we had a
lesson about sports, we didnt even hear their names [have heard of them?] and
we were not interested. Another had already offered some feedback: I wrote to
him, if you add some news, topics and materials from outside. If you change, we
will feel more interested. One of Marys students said: I wish she introduces
some simple newspaper stories, and another: I think this is the first time for her
to teach, because I dont feel Im learning anything in this class. Im not
interested because its the same book. Of the 10 teachers studied, Mary was the
best qualified (with an RSA Diploma and an MA TESOL).

2.3 Learners and authentic materials

Despite their strongly expressed wish for authentic materials, some of the students
in Shawer et al.s (2008) study seem to have favoured a combination of textbook
and authentic materials (e.g. mixing is better p.18; the textbook is essential
for knowledge we need to learn, but newspapers and news, for example, help us
to acknowledge the English in our environment p.19).
Two of the three teachers in upper-secondary schools in Sweden studied by
Johansson (2006), Conrad and Conny, used a combination of coursebooks and
other (alternative) materials; the third, Alice, only used alternative materials. All
three teachers claimed that they encouraged students to evaluate the materials and
to make suggestions for materials, and students confirmed that this happened.
Conrad, however, pointed out: Some students say that they want to decide what
to do, but then they wont come round to it because they dont know what they
want to do and then it all ends up with me making the decisions for them (p.17).
The three teachers approaches to student involvement vary somewhat. Conrad
asks his students what they want at the beginning of each semester. Alice
administers a questionnaire at the start of each course in which she elicits
information from students about their previous learning experiences, how they
would like to work now, and what topics would interest them. She also asks them
to complete written evaluations. She adds: Every lesson is more or less
evaluated, at least orally; the youth of today will tell you if they dont like
something and you also observe the atmosphere in the classroom (pp.1415).
She acknowledges, however, that students may be wary of being critical when
this could be taken as a criticism of the teacher: Students in the Natural Science
programme have more difficulties in giving criticism because they are anxious
about their grades and also afraid of getting on the wrong side of teachers . . .
Then you have to take the pulse by anonymous written evaluations (p.15).
The six students interviewed by the researcher (two from each class) were in
general very positive about their teachers use of alternative material, but this did
not necessarily mean that they preferred the alternative material to a coursebook.
Johansson speculates that students level may be a factor. The Swedish grading
system runs from MVG (Pass with special distinction) through VG (Pass with
distinction) and G (Pass) to IVG (Fail). The weaker among the interviewees, as
categorized by their teachers, expressed rather more positive views of
coursebooks than their classmates, but this was not always the case. Rosa, (a G)
student in Conrads class, prefers coursebooks. Niklas, a G student in Connys
class, sees coursebooks as boring and prefers to use alternative material, but
nevertheless is convinced that he learns more with coursebooks (p.21). Natalie,
also in Connys class, but a VG student, commented: Its good to follow
coursebooks, but then its always fun to work with something new thats also up
to date . . . there are often boring texts in coursebooks, but its still good to have
the vocabulary and grammar that comes with coursebooks (ibid.).
In addition to the types of material used and the appropriateness of these to
students level, other factors would seem to be involved here, such as the
students need for security and the ways in which teachers use materials. As
Adam, an MVG student in Alices class, observes: If we had another teacher
who wasnt as ingenious as Alice, I think that coursebooks would probably be
better (p.20).
The following anecdote from Nguyen (2005: 5), a teacher in Vietnam, also
shows that students reactions to the use of supplementary materials are not
always predictable, even when the materials have been specially chosen for their
local interest:

. . . my students recently listened to a Voice of America broadcast about the

lack of religious freedom in Vietnam. I did not support this premise because
Vietnamese people have always enjoyed religious freedom. Nevertheless, this
surprising news item provided an interesting cultural topic for discussion, as
well as a good lesson on English grammatical structures. After the broadcast I
wanted my students to express their views, but one very angry student stood up
and told me that the news was untrue and threatened to report the classroom
activity to the police. Eventually she calmed down and understood that the
intention of the activity was to raise cultural awareness by looking at another
countrys perspective, to encourage critical thinking, and to develop English
language skills.

Nguyen comments:

It was unexpected that a student might react in such a way, and the other
students seemed to be excited about the broadcast and wanted to share their
opinions. Still, it was an unpleasant experience. My intention was to stimulate
the students minds and get them to speak, not to cause distress. However, I
mistakenly took for granted that the broadcast would be interesting for all to
discuss simply because it was about Vietnam.

He may have also assumed that the very fact that the materials were authentic
would be sufficient to make them interesting to students.
One testimony to the use of films comes from the classroom diary of a
Japanese university student:

Now, I think that movies are really useful, interesting, and easy-to-learn tools .
. . . In fact, I learned some expressions or words from them, for the English in
movies are exactly natural speaking English. I think its not just me who likes
movies as texts, so why dont we use them more if we have extra times?
(Gilmore, 2010: 119, citing Gilmore, 2007: 41)

Gilmore comments that this supports what many language teachers intuitively
believe: learners are highly motivated by authentic materials such as films
(p.117). His paper includes usefully detailed technical guidance on how film
discourse can be exploited for learning.
In another Japanese study, Nishigaki (nd) researched the relationship between
the level (and type) of listening activity and its perceived effectiveness and
enjoyableness. 40 first-year university students (20 English majors and 20 non-
English majors) were taught using commercial listening materials (Listen First
and Listen for It) and the film The Secret of my Success. The film was
preferred by both groups of students but the level of motivation was higher
among the English majors. Nishigaki concludes that this was because the film
was linguistically too demanding for the non-English majors and overwhelmed
them (p.76; see http://mitizane.ll.chiba-
As Peacocks (1997b) study further demonstrates, the relationship between
materials and motivation is quite complex. Peacock conducted a seven-week
study of South Korean undergraduates in beginner-level English classes. Over the
20 lessons of the study, the students used authentic materials (poems, TV listings,
short articles, advice column from English language magazine, American pop
song, magazine advertisements) or artificial materials in alternate lessons as a
supplement to their coursebook, their responses being measured by a number of
instruments (observation and quantitative measurement of classroom behaviours,
self-report questionnaire and pair interviews). From lesson 8, the students
motivation for authentic materials was seen to increase, but overall the correlation
between interest and value was weak. Peacock concluded that interest needs to be
separated from other aspects of motivation.
As one might expect, one of the key issues for these beginner-level students, as
for one group of students in Nishigakis study, seems to have been the difficulty
level of the materials. Table 7.3 presents a selection of students comments from
the pair interviews in Peacocks study. What is noticeable is that difficulty is
mentioned in relation to both sets of material and in one case at least this seems to
have affected motivation (less interesting . . . topic is very hard). Peacocks
report does not permit direct comparison between students comments on the
same set of material, but it is evident that the artificial materials also had their

Table 7.3 Beginners comments on artificial and authentic materials

Krajkas (2001) questionnaire-based survey of 311 Polish 16-year-olds from 10

different schools also investigated learners attitudes to coursebooks and authentic
materials, in this case, web-based materials. The students were using five
different UK-produced coursebooks, all published in the period 19962000.
Almost one-third of the respondents considered the texts and recordings in their
coursebook to be boring and a similar number found the books a little dated.
Krajka argues that the internet can provide a useful supplement for coursebooks
for instance, by offering access to more interesting authentic texts. Asked for their
own thoughts about how often they would like to use the internet, most learners
gave a guarded response, 77 per cent saying sometimes.

2.4 Types of material, activity preferences, topics

When teachers are developing in-house materials, information on the kinds of

materials learners like and the types of activities they prefer are important aspects
of the needs-wants analysis process.
Fortunes (1992) study of young adults attitudes to self-access grammar
exercises found that the general preference was for the more traditional
(deductive) exercises. Learners feel more secure with the familiar. Dats (2003)
attempt to help a Vietnamese teacher increase student participation in his lessons
met with mixed reactions from students: for example, 26% wished that the
teacher had taught as carefully as he normally did, corrected their mistakes, and
trained them in their pronunciation such as reading out loud for everyone to
repeat (p.187). When St Louis, Trias and Pereira (2010) asked pre-university
Venezuelan students for their comments on the in-house materials they had
developed, most expressed the desire for more grammar-based exercises, while
others wanted more grammatical explanations in their L1. Other requests included
more opportunities for oral practice and for writing as a form of personal
Spratt (1999) investigated the classroom activity preferences of 997
undergraduates following compulsory English courses in a Hong Kong university.
Findings indicated a preference for, for example, small group work over pair
work and individual work, for discussion over role-play, and for oral practice
activities (e.g. pronunciation, grammar practice) over written exercises (e.g. gap-
filling). She makes the point that the study was valuable precisely because it made
distinctions of these kinds between what might be thought of as rather similar
activities and because there was a relatively poor match (50%) between teachers
beliefs about learners preferences and learners actual preferences. At the same
time, she is careful to point out that results of this kind are very much context-
and student-bound.
Information on learners wishes and interests can also be helpful for the teacher
using a coursebook. For example, Graves (2000) notes: My students in Brazil . . .
told me they wanted more practice with functional language and less emphasis on
grammar, and felt that role plays were an ideal way to practise the functions, and
this feedback proved helpful in enabling her to decide which coursebook
exercises to give more time to and which to omit or set for homework. Flack
(1999) reports on a study in which 50 Polish students aged 16+ were given
questionnaires, used as speaking activities, at the beginning and end of their
course. The first questionnaire was designed to establish their level of interest in
the topics in the coursebook they would be using. The second questionnaire asked
how interesting they had found the texts related to these topics. The majority of
the topics were found to be more interesting than the texts, the lowest scores
being given for anglo-specific texts. Overall, this approach was useful, Flack
notes, because it enabled him to identify topics of most interest to his students and
texts of little interest. His conclusions are that where a topic and its associated text
were felt to be uninteresting, both should be replaced; where a text was
considered interesting but the topic boring, the text should be retained and more
intensively exploited and where a topic was of interest but the text not, the text
should be replaced. Other conclusions could be drawn, of course that, for
example, it may be preferable to start from potentially interesting texts, or that a
relatively dull text, if considered important for its linguistic content or carrier
content, can be exploited in interesting ways.
For the teacher who simply wishes to know what topics or activity types are
likely to interest a particular class, a few questions may suffice. In the following
interview with eight Turkish children the teacher gains a great deal of potentially
useful information. The children, who are aged five to six, have been learning
English for between two and four years; several are bilingual.

Teacher: Why do you like learning English?

Because I go to the Chicago and in the Chicago many many speak
Artun: English. I goed to Dinosaur museum and dinosaur man speak English
I watch Fox Kids and BBC Prime. I can see all the films in English.
Arda: Jordan (Ardas friend) doesnt speak English. Sometimes I stay at his
house. We play the Batman, pirates, everything in English.
I like come this school. I like make lesson, nice pictures. I like do the
puzzles in English. Many many nice things English class.
Teacher: What activities do you like to do in the English classroom?
I like the circle time. I like listen to story and look pictures.
Especially, I like play the puppets my friends.
I like the school play. I like doing shows with my friends and making
the masks. The girls are the good people and the boys are the bad
people, but Artun and Aykun can sometimes be good people even
though they are boys.
Artun: I like singing the songs and dancing the songs. I sing very very good.
Teacher: What is your favourite word in English?
I like bottom. Bottom you move your mouth a lot. When we say
Bora: bottom my friends laugh. My friends say bottom is a bad word,
but I not think bottom is bad!
My favourite word is lovely because its lovely. I also like horse
Yasemin: and sweetheart. My mummy calls me sweetheart and I call my horse
sweetheart. Will you call me sweetheart?
My favourite word is horse because I like horse riding. I like all
Teacher: Are there any words you dont like in English?
I dont like thief because thief is a bad man. My daddy says they
put thieves in prison. If you dont work hard in school or you dont
listen to your mommy, you can become a thief. (Humanising English
Teaching, 2001: 12)

No one seems to have reacted to Melisas comment about the boys and the
teachers response to Yasemins request is not recorded, but Evrens stern
warning about the need to work hard in school no doubt ensured that the children
worked hard for the rest of that lesson at least.
What learners say they are interested in may not match, of course, their
response to specific materials. Saraceni (2003), who criticizes the materials in
(low-level) coursebooks on the grounds that they are trivial, undermine the
learners and do not motivate them (p.79), elicited from her UK university
students the topics they found controversial. These included the death penalty,
abortion, genetic engineering, politics, racism, television. However, when she
tried out a range of discussion topics in class, those which proved most
provocative related to family, relationships, emotions and inner self. She
comments: These are universally appealing but, at the same time, culturally
different and very subjective and therefore they provoke different reactions
(ibid.). She also acknowledges that some students prefer the safe topics.

3. Learners responses to working with learner-generated

The point was made in earlier chapters that one of the logical developments from
learner-centred teaching is the concept of learner-generated materials that is, the
use for teaching purposes of materials produced by learners. Such materials and
related activities range along a spectrum the breadth of which is determined by
the readiness of the teacher to share responsibility with learners. For instance, at
the low-risk end of the spectrum a teacher might present learners with examples
of errors that occurred in their written work or a spoken task and ask them to
correct these; towards the other end of the spectrum, learners might be tasked
with devising teaching materials to teach other learners.
A common theme in the accounts of such activities (see McGrath, 2002 for
review) is that they were very popular with learners, but what tends to be
missing as noted at the beginning of this chapter is any systematic attempt to
evaluate the experience from the learners perspective.
Kanchana (1991) reports on the use in a Thai university of projects which
required 27 students to produce materials with which to teach their classmates. In
Kanchanas positive evaluation, reference is made to the value of the teamwork
involved and the use of real and authentic language (p.38) at the task-design
stage (students were encouraged to use English, but permitted to use Thai).
However, translated student feedback also testifies to students own perceptions
of the value of the activity. Several of these comments focus on the affective
dimension (e.g. relaxed, entertaining, enjoyable); others touch on the
linguistic value (knowledge, vocabulary, listening) (p.39). It is not clear
whether students who had previously been uninterested in English had been
converted, but one student at least said, I used to think that English was difficult
but now I think I can cope with it, and another said firmly, Group projects
should be continued (ibid.).
It might be assumed that the use of learner-generated materials for teaching
purposes is only feasible if students are relatively mature (i.e. older teenagers and
adults) and have a fairly high level of language proficiency. Positive reports from
primary school teachers in Singapore, all of whom were following a part-time in-
service course, are therefore revealing and encouraging. One teacher notes: I . . .
went through with them the aim of this experiment and how they will be the
designers and co-authors of this learner-generated material for future learners.
All were smiling and grinning with excitement (Rayhan M. Rashad, 2011); and
another teacher comments: the pupils found it . . . thrilling to see their own
creations being used in place of the textbook or teacher produced work. . . . A
high level of pupil involvement was observed and I must admit I got the best
feedback ever (Dhilshaadh Balajee, 2011). High levels of motivation were
mentioned frequently. In one class, pairs wrote poems; some pairs were even
motivated to write a second poem. . . . There was also one particular student who
wrote a separate poem at home, and presented it to me next day. I promptly put it
up on the notice board for everyone to share and learn. Other effects were also
observed: As the group reads their writing aloud, it is clear how deep a sense of
accomplishment they experience from their smiles and their chuckles. The other
groups are then asked to say three best things (appreciation) that they see in their
friends work. The positive affirmations make the recipients glow with pride
(Anusuya Ramasamy, 2011).
Some teachers conducted rather more formal evaluations. In one class, the
teacher asked pupils how they felt about creating their own worksheet based on
their own text. Most said that they experienced a sense of ownership over their
self-created worksheet as it was unique, the one and only, and exclusively
theirs. Some felt like teachers and found the experience fun. They were excited
to find out whether their partner would be able to answer the questions they had
Pupils in several classes also suggested ways in which the activities could be
improved, by allowing more time, working in groups rather than pairs, using a
computer lab, and some pupils who discovered that their partners were able to
answer most of the questions in their worksheets concluded that it was because
of the clues given and asked if they could have a similar activity but without
having to give the clues.
In these Singapore studies (see McGrath (forthcoming) for further discussion),
teachers experimented with very different forms of learner-generated material.
One particular form which has received some attention in the literature is the
transcription by students of their presentation, say, followed by self-correction
(see, for example, Lynch, 2001, 2007). In an elaborated version of this, Stillwell,
Curabba, Alexander, Kidd, Kim, Stone and Wyle (2010) used a series of activities
with 20 students in a freshman English programme at a Japanese university which
started with an audio-recorded poster presentation and then included pair work on
self and peer transcription, self and peer correction, teacher correction and a
second attempt at the spoken presentation. A quantitative summary of students
responses to a post task questionnaire is shown in Table 7.4 (1 = not at all useful,
5 = very useful).
The authors add that although in many cases the second presentation was very
different from the first some students made use of the corrections. In such cases,
teacher corrections were rather more likely to be reused than students self-
corrections, but accuracy of reuse was roughly similar at 55 per cent. The
preference for teacher corrections, which is also reflected in the above table, was
explained by the fact that the teacher was a native speaker of English. No
comment is made by the authors on the relatively lower ratings given to the stages
when students worked on their partners text, or on the spread of ratings on the
final item.

Table 7.4 Students ratings of the usefulness of each stage of the activity (in

The learner responses described above may have been predominantly positive,
but little warning signs can also be discerned in the lower rating of the students in
the Stillwell et al. study to the activities involving their partner. Learners, it would
seem, do not always respond positively to opportunities for learning through peer
evaluation. Sengupta (1998) designed an activity for a class of 15- to 16-year-old
girls in a Hong Kong secondary school in which, following teacher input, students
first evaluated their own work, then gave feedback to a partner and finally revised
their own work. The work of 12 students (six pairs) was chosen for analysis and
six girls agreed to be interviewed about the activity. The analysis revealed that
none of the revisions made appeared to be a direct response to peer feedback, a
finding illuminated by the subsequent interviews. The students were apparently
preoccupied with accuracy, were conscious that this would be a key criterion of
assessment in the national examination, and felt that their teacher (a native
speaker) was the only person who could make an authoritative judgement on this:
I think it was useless. . . . I want to know from the teacher how to
Student 1: make this composition better . . . to get more . . . to get good HKCE
pass. . . .
Student 2: It is her work . . . job. (Sengupta, 1998: 23)

They were also embarrassed to have their peers read their work and treated the
evaluation exercise in a desultory fashion:

I do not like my neighbour to read my composition. I have many

mistakes. I am not . . . I do not like . . . my class friend will
laugh. . . . So I read quickly and write something on in the
Interviewer: What do you mean by something?
Something. I mean, a comment or something. I fill it ah just
fill it. (pp.223)

Sengupta concludes:

The traditional roles of the teacher and learner in the school curriculum seem so
deep-rooted that the only possible interpretation of knowledge appears to be
that it is transmitted from the teacher to the student, and not constructed by the
classroom community. Unless these perceptions regarding teachers roles are
addressed, it is probable that little value will be attached to peer evaluation, and
collaborative and autonomous learning by secondary school ESL students may
not become a reality. (p.25)

There seem to be implications here for both learner education (training) and
teacher education. However, one is also left wondering whether the reactions of
the Hong Kong learners is a result of their educational conditioning and whether
earlier experience with learner-generated materials might have made a difference.

4. Summary and conclusions

As the studies described in this chapter illustrate, learners can provide feedback
on materials, activities, teaching practices and leisure interests which is helpful in
informing materials development and teacher decision-making. While much of
this information will be of most direct relevance to the teachers concerned, it
could also be of value to other teachers working with learners with similar
characteristics. At present, however, learners perspectives seem to be very under-
represented in the literature. This suggests that teachers either do not attempt to
obtain learner feedback systematically or do not report what they discover. The
implications of this and other points emerging from our discussion so far are
considered in the next chapter.

Contextual influences and individual factors

Teachers . . . are traditionally expected to impart knowledge to their

students and most classes are teacher-fronted and controlled. The
predominant teaching style is expository. Even where textbooks are
supposedly communicative in orientation, teachers will often read out
dialogues and other texts, ask the students to repeat them and then
translate the dialogue or text.
(Hayes, 2008: 60)
When Im spending [many hours] a week which Im not being paid for, am I
dedicated or am I an idiot?
(Teacher quoted in Crookes & Arakaki, 1999: 4)

1. Introduction
What we have seen in Chapters Five to Seven is that there appears to be a gap
between expectations of how teachers will interact with materials and draw on
input from learners and what typically happens. To judge by the available
descriptive literature which can only partly represent reality, of course
experienced teachers improvise in the way they use materials, but planned teacher
adaptation is often limited to omitting certain exercises or activities and
modifying procedures, and teacher supplementation to adding warm-up activities
and the use of photocopied or downloaded exercises; textbook selection tends to
be a largely intuitive process; and the potential contribution of learners is rarely
Some of the reasons for this state of affairs suggested by Bell and Gower
(2011) and cited in Chapter Two are: lack of teacher preparation time, the
excesses of ministry or institution power, the demands of examinations, or the
lack of professional training (p.138). On a more general level, Sampson (2009),
writing about a university language centre where an institutionally prepared
coursebook was being used, distinguishes between institutional and personal
constraints. In addition to a reported lack of time for materials preparation,
institutional constraints included pressure towards standardization. Personal
constraints highlighted are lack of experience in evaluating and adapting
materials, lack of confidence in developing original materials; and what Sampson
calls a self-limiting tendency, the idea . . . that the coursebook is the authority
in terms of methodology and content as it was written by someone with
experience and knowledge (p.202). In their discussion of the factors which
influenced the practices of three Chinese secondary school teachers, Zheng and
Davison (2008) highlight three complex forces which might be more broadly
applicable in state school contexts. These are:

external forces: the intended curriculum, the intended method, and the
national assessment system
internal forces: teachers own learning and teaching experiences, their
conceptions of teaching and learning, their professional education, their life
stories, and their meta-cognitive thinking processes
situated forces: expectations of school authorities and parents, students
aptitudes and attitudes, school culture, resources, and collegial interaction
(based on Zheng & Davison, 2008: 1723).
In this chapter, we examine these forces and factors and their consequences in a
little more detail. Section 2 considers why teachers may not use materials in the
way they are expected to; Section 3 why textbook selection and materials
evaluation more generally is not as systematic as it might be; and Section 4 why
teachers do not normally involve learners in materials development and

2. Why do teachers not use coursebooks in the way theyre

expected to?
In some settings, and especially when the textbook in question is the official,
Ministry-produced book or an in-house coursebook for a large institution,
teachers may be expected to follow the textbook faithfully in the interests of
standardization. In contrast, the writers of global textbooks, who realize that their
books will not be wholly appropriate for all contexts, typically encourage teachers
to adapt the materials. Based on the evidence surveyed in Chapter Six, it would
seem that teachers do not always conform to either of these expectations: they
may deviate from a book when expected to follow it and follow a book carefully
when expected to adapt it.
The tendency to follow global materials slavishly seems to be a characteristic
of the inexperienced teacher, especially one with limited linguistic proficiency
and little or no training. As a Thai teacher recalls, When I start my career in the
school, the head of the department gave me the book before I went to class. I
dont know what the curriculum was and I dont care. I follow the book and I
think the book is the curriculum (Arunee, cited in Hayes, 2008: 63). Through
experience, teachers develop an instinct for what will work well and less well and
the confidence to do things differently. Professional training and the opportunity
to work with more experienced colleagues who are willing to share ideas also
make a difference (Tsui, 2003). We might therefore expect that in most cases,
over time, teachers would begin to make increasingly independent pedagogic
decisions that is, adapting the way in which they use the materials.
From his perspective as a writer, Maley (1995) agrees that teachers should
adapt materials, but is concerned by what he calls sabotage:

. . . whoever uses my materials will interpret them differently. And even the
same teacher will not use them identically on two different occasions. . . . this
does not worry me overmuch. Teachers know their own classes far better than
I, who have not met them ever could. They have a feeling for what is right at
what moment in their class. . . . What I want to try to avoid is having my
materials completely sabotaged, either because the teacher does not understand
them or does not sympathise with them. In the latter case, it is not unknown for
teachers to subvert the materials they have had foisted upon them. (p.224)

An example of the kind of sabotage he is referring to is provided by Hayes (2008:

60), describing teachers in Thai schools: Even where textbooks are supposedly
communicative in orientation, teachers will often read out dialogues and other
texts, ask the students to repeat them and then translate the dialogue or text into
Thai. Maley has identified two possible reasons for this very radical form of
adaptation: the teachers do not understand what they are supposed to do (lack of
training) or they are unsympathetic to it (i.e. opposed to the communicative
approach in principle or on the grounds that it is unsuited to their learners needs).
Lee and Bathmaker (2007), in a study of Singaporean teachers working with
students in secondary vocational schools, note that the teachers typically omitted
activities designed to teach learning strategies and higher order interpretative
skills because they were doubtful these would benefit students judged to be of
low ability (p.365).
Table 8.1, offers an analysis of how and why teachers practices differ from
what is expected.
Under the third column (Reasons) we can see a number of recurring themes.
These have been arranged in the same order merely for reasons of neatness; their
relative importance will differ according to the nature of the teachers role, the
context and a teachers professional and personal characteristics. Let us consider
each of these themes in a little more detail.

Table 8.1 Why teachers do not conform to expectations

2.1 Logistical constraints

Many teachers struggle because of factors beyond their control. These include
lack of even basic resources. There are contexts where there are insufficient
textbooks for the number of learners (Chavez, 2006; Ravelonanahary, 2007) or
the recordings which are an integral part of a coursebook package cannot be used
because either the hardware to play them is not available or a reliable electricity
supply cannot be guaranteed. Even when hardware is available, it may have to be
shared. A Colombian teacher notes: In my school, we have a single tape recorder
for the whole school. Sometimes, I find myself reserving the tape recorder two
weeks in advance because the music teacher, the French teacher and the physical
education teacher would also like to use it at the same time (Gonzlez, 2000,
cited in Gonzlez Moncada, 2006: 8). Al-Yousef (2007), writing of the situation
in Saudi Arabia when a new course was introduced, notes that there was a delay
in supplying components such as visual aids and audio cassettes to some schools
and that there were insufficient copies of the Teachers Manual. In the developing
world, supplementary resources may also be scarce or non-existent (St George
2001, cited in Farooqui 2008). Although access to the resources of the Internet
has increased enormously in recent years, there are still many institutions around
the world where even facilities for reproduction are lacking and dedicated
teachers feel obliged to use photocopying shops and pay for the copies themselves
(Yan, 2007).
Classroom furniture which constrains easy student and teacher movement can
also militate against certain types of classroom activity, such as group work and
pair work. Farooqui (2008: 203) describes a classroom in Bangladesh:

Students sit in rows with desks facing the blackboard on long wooden benches
which line up and are bolted to the floor. There is hardly any space for the
teachers to move around and see what the students are doing. Since the classes
are very large . . . if a teacher asks students to get involved in pair work,
students who are around the teacher do those, others do not. They talk to each
other and it creates noise.

The average number of students in the classes observed as part of Farooquis

study was 7080, and teacher shortages sometimes meant that classes had to be
combined. Faced with such large numbers, the teachers felt that they had no
choice but to revert to traditional lecturing techniques. However, this was also
ineffective since students sitting towards the back of the class could not hear and
may not have been able to see what the teacher wrote on the board.

2.2 Lack of fit

Such constraints as those discussed above may have the effect of preventing
teachers from using the coursebook in the way the writer(s) intended. However,
teachers may choose not to use a book, or to make little use of it, if they feel that
it is largely unsuitable for their students. A study of materials use by 58 English
teachers in Peninsular Malaysia (Fauziah Hassan & Nita Fauzee Selamat, 2002),
indicated that teachers used workbooks more than the textbook. Reasons given by
the teachers included the following:

. . . the textbook is very rigid, and some of the passages there are very difficult.
I hardly use the textbook because I feel it is not appropriate . . . it does not
challenge the learners thinking skills.
I cannot use the textbooks because they are so outdated . . . so irrelevant, so
. . . they do not match the syllabus.

The issues mentioned in these quotations and related issues such as the lack of fit
between the coursebook and the national examination, recur in other studies (see,
for example, Wang, 2005; Lee & Bathmaker, 2007; Zheng & Davison, 2008;
Tomlinson, 2010b). In some situations, economic or political factors may play a
role. In Madagascar, according to Ravelonanahary (2007), such textbooks as are
available were designed for other contexts (the Go for English series, for
example, was originally designed for West Africa) and match neither the
curriculum nor the needs of the learners. However, lack of fit is probably most
common when one or more elements in the system have changed but others have
not. The Malaysian textbooks referred to above seem not to have changed despite
the changes around them (the syllabus, and teachers views of what they want
from materials). In Farooquis (2008) study of 26 Bangladeshi teachers from a
variety of settings the teachers approved of the content of the new textbook;
however, some felt the lack of a literature component and there were also doubts
about its suitability for students in rural areas, who as is the case in many
countries had a lower proficiency level than students in urban areas. Moreover,
many of the teachers were sceptical about whether all the activities included could
be taught as described in the teachers guide. Farooqui (2008: 206) concludes:
The study indicates a disjunction between policy-level curriculum rhetoric and
pedagogical reality.
Similarly motivated, but more strongly voiced feelings were expressed by the
teachers in Arikans (2004) study of nine Ankara-based teachers experiences of
in-service programmes, which revealed a profound dissatisfaction with the failure
of teacher educators to take participants concerns into account. As one
participant put it during an interview:

Here we go again. There is always this mentality. We always have the English
language teaching methodology coming from another galaxy. What about us?
What about a method that works in our classrooms? In Turkey? In Ankara?
(Arikan, 2004: 46)

and, the teacher might have said, a method that works in the villages of
Anatolia, far from urban centres such as Ankara or Istanbul.
One of the most obvious forms of lack of fit is that between a coursebook and
an examination. Referring to the situation in Taiwanese junior high schools, a
teacher observes: It is a paradox that the new textbooks do not correspond with
the Basic Competence Test. Now the textbooks tend to emphasize the
communication, the dialogue, but the focus of the test is still on reading and
writing (Teacher 2, cited in Wang, 2005: 77). Farooquis (2008) study found that
listening and speaking activities in the coursebook were neglected because these
skills were not tested in the final examination.
Smotrova (2009) describes the difficulties experienced by Ukrainian teachers
during the transition from one syllabus/approach to another:

As the new syllabus was phased in [from 2004], teachers had to teach using
different syllabi for different age groups of students: an older one based on
grammar-translation principles, with students as passive recipients of linguistic
information, and the new one based on communicative principles, with students
as active and creative learners. Given that most primary and secondary school
teachers were trained in grammar translation and have not travelled abroad,
implementing the new syllabus has proved difficult. One outcome is that
repetition and memorization are still widely used in EFL teaching. At the same
time, some teachers have reportedly been able to integrate grammar-
translations form focus with communicative elements, yielding an approach
which better matches most teachers strengths. (Tarnopolsky, 1996)

One might interpret this to mean that the teachers who have been able to achieve
an integration of grammar translation and the communicative approach are
adapting the materials, as the literature advocates. The designers of the new
syllabus and the textbook writers tasked with realizing it would probably take a
different view. To judge from the middle part of the quotation, a lack of training
in how to do things differently and perhaps a lack of conviction in the new
approach seem to have resulted in the teachers continuing to teach largely as they
had always done, a common scenario.
A number of papers have also dealt with the difficulty of using the
Communicative Approach in Asia (see, for example, Burnaby and Sun (1989) on
China and Li (1998) on Korea). In one recent paper, Ning Liu (2009) cites Hinkel
(1999: 1516):

. . . the western teachers usually use the textbooks as a resource that they
exploit selectively, attempting to involve the students in active discussion;
while Chinese students usually regard textbooks as teachers and authorities,
expecting the teacher to expound the book. They learn through attentive
listening while accepting the knowledge from the textbook uncritically.

Learners expectations of what and how they will be taught can thus be a further
obstacle to the introduction of novelty in materials or method. Chowdhury (2003)
says, apparently in reference to Bangladesh: the home culture and the EFL
classroom/textbook culture are very often at odds and the values and teaching
methods presented in class are alien and therefore often unappreciated. The point
is relevant more generally. Teachers who are themselves not fully persuaded of
the value of the new element or confident in how to implement it may decide to
take the easier route and give the learners what they want.

2.3 Lack of systemic freedom

Teachers freedom as far as the use of materials is concerned is externally
constrained by one or more forces. For state sector institutions where educational
systems are highly centralized, policy as determined by the Ministry of Education
is reflected in an official textbook, and in all systems national examinations will
be key factors. In some contexts, parents may also be influential: a book has been
paid for and it should be used.
Institutions exert their own forms of pressure. University language centres
operating compulsory English courses for large numbers of students may produce
their own materials and, for obvious reasons, try to ensure that these are used in
more or less the same way by all instructors (Sampson, 2009). In the private
sector, similarly, a chain of schools may have produced its own coursebooks and
even prescribe the method to be used.
Hayes (2009) shows the impact of peer pressure on a Thai teacher whose first
teaching post was in the school where she had been a learner herself:

. . . the first time that I came here my teacher, my old teacher, show me how to
teach English and I realise that they taught the old way just only show them
[students] how to pronounce, how to read and then have them do by
themselves, just teacher centred.
So just read and translate into Thai?

Yeah, and a lot of worksheets have them do and after tell them the correct
answers. Hayes (2009: 91)

When the teacher tried to do things differently, in a more student-centred way, she
encountered opposition, not from students but from her colleagues, who were
particularly unhappy about the noise level in her class:

The first year I want to retire. I told my mother I didnt want to teach here, I
didnt want to be a teacher, because I cant do anything that I want to. Every
time when I teach [senior teachers said] Sudarats class again.
Because they were noisy?
Yes, [they] scold my students when I stood in the front of the class. I went to
the bathroom and I cry and I cry a lot. (ibid.)

There is a happy ending to this story. Sudarat (not the teachers real name) stuck
to her guns and went on to become a teacher trainer. Sudarats is not an isolated
case. One of the Swedish teachers interviewed by Johannson (2006), who
preferred to use alternative materials rather than coursebooks, reported that in her
former school she had also been criticized by her former colleagues both directly
and behind her back (p.15). Johansson, who had observed this teacher in her new
school and knew how popular she was with students, speculates: One
explanation could be that the other teachers had difficulties accepting her
popularity among the students (ibid.).
The pressure to conform typically has a pragmatic dimension, however.
Referring to Hong Kong secondary schools, Law (1995: 113) points out: . . . the
lower form teachers were expected to follow the textbooks more strictly to ensure
uniformity and coverage. Tests and examinations were also largely based on what
had been taught in the textbooks.
In her case study of Mrs Tanaka, a Japanese teacher teaching lower-
secondary classes in a private language school, Hayashi (2010) identified what
she terms horizontal and vertical constraints within the micro culture of the
school and teachers teaching the same subject. The horizontal constraint is
described in the first set of quotations below and the vertical constraint in the final

One constraint requires her to be conscious of conformity and keep in step

with the teachers in the same year (p.130) . . . She is not allowed to modify
any part of the lesson plans or add an original activity into the lessons (p.320).
She needs to adhere to an inflexible schedule. (p.130)
Another pressure comes from the teachers in the affiliated [upper] secondary
section. . .. As the school is a comprehensive institution, the teachers in the
lower secondary section are considered to be key determiners and take almost
all the responsibility for the students basic achievement. (p.130)

Since the school has a good academic reputation and parental expectations are
that their children will ultimately gain entrance to universities, the vertical
pressure on the teacher is considerable: The school aims at a higher success ratio
for the university entrance examinations and stresses English as one of the major
subjects for the examinations. She is expected to understand and pursue this
school goal (p.321).
The importance attached to examination success and the pressure on teachers
from all sides are also reflected in these comments by Malaysian teachers:

If the results go down, you know youll be called up and the principal will say,
OK, look at all the other subjects, why is English the lowest? . . . so teachers
would tend to focus on this . . . I dont blame them.
In the eyes of the learners, yes, of course theyll say, so and so was the one who
taught me English . . . but if they get a C or a B, they may say Im not a good
teacher . . . at the end of the day, hes also basing his evaluation on the grade he
gets. (Fauziah Hassan & Nita Fauzee Selamat, 2002: 7)

One teacher who dissented from the prevailing view of teachers in this study still
conceded that she had to conform at a certain point: Im not much of an
examination-oriented person as Im more for educating learners . . . trying to help
them . . . understand what they are learning, but perhaps in the second semester,
Ill be examination-orientated because that is more practical (pp.78).
The kinds of pressure referred to above will be familiar to many teachers. In the
quotation below another Japanese teacher acknowledges the effects that
horizontal peer constraints, examination-orientation and the instrumentally
motivated (test-focused) students that it breeds can have on a teacher. In his
closing sentence particularly, we sense the real frustration that this kind of
situation can engender.

I would like to select, adapt and supplement materials more consciously so that
I can help my students learn English more efficiently. The problem is that I am
supposed to teach the same content as the other teachers do. One educational
year has more than 100 students, and a few teachers teach them using the same
coursebook. If I want to do something different from the coursebook, I have to
let my colleagues know what I want to do. If they decide to use what I do for
their class, it is fine. However, if they decide not to, I cannot use this material
for testing because that would be unfair for students who take other teachers
lessons. All the students are supposed to take the same test in the middle and at
the end of the term. Students often do not want to study what they will not be
tested about. With various constraints, it is so easy to flow along with what I
am supposed to do. However, I do not want to keep producing students who
study English for more than 6 years and cannot do anything in English.
(Matsumara, 2010)

As the reference here to students exam fixation implies, student pressure to

follow the book can also be perceived as a constraint, but pressure can come from
parents too. Writing of private schools in Greece, Tsobanoglou (2008) notes:
parents . . . believe that their children will only learn English if they complete all
the tasks in the book, read all the texts and do all the exercises (p.41).
Institutional, student and parental pressure are likely to combine when
university entry is at issue. As Crookes (2009) points out: in those countries
where . . . scores on tests of English proficiency . . . are used as a major entry
criterion to higher education providers . . . teachers of English are under
enormous pressure to teach to the test (p.201). He adds that similar pressure to
deliver may also be felt when students need a communicative command of
English for specific forms of employment.

2.4 Lack of time

Time is an issue for teachers for a number of reasons. They may feel, for instance,
that there are insufficient hours for English (Mrs Tanaka, the teacher in
Hayashis (2010) study referred to above, whose students are privileged in having
more hours of English per week than would be normal in a state school, still says:
I have little time. I want to have more than five lessons in a week and want to do
more.). As a consequence, they may feel that they can do little more than teach to
the syllabus or book, regardless of learners needs. This is especially the case
when examinations are involved.
This kind of exam-dominated teaching may also mean that, when students are
preparing for an internationally recognized exam which can be taken at any time
and using a book in preparation for this, getting through the book becomes the
primary objective and certain activities are either skipped or dealt with only
Hsiao (2010) describes the situation in Taiwan among teachers and students
preparing for the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC):

Time pressure is . . . a common problem for teachers in exam preparatory

programs in Taiwan because most learners are eager to achieve their goals in as
short a period of time as possible. Therefore, the program is scheduled as
intensively as possible: for instance, a 350-page textbook has to be fully
covered in only 24 hours of instruction. Obviously the teaching load is way
above average, but most students are under the impression that speedy learning
is best, particularly in an exam-orientated course.

His observation of a number of classes indicated how this speedy learning is


. . . course coordinators are forced to speed up the learning and teaching pace
and consequently omission of in-class drills and some exercises becomes
inevitable. In the classroom observation, some printed exercises were assigned
as homework and the rest were left out; but even so, the homework sections
were barely reviewed in the following session.

Even when teaching is not dominated by exams, other non-teaching tasks may
intrude. Farooqui (2008), for instance, points out that classes in Bangladesh are
typically 3040 minutes long and tasks such as checking attendance and
collecting the previous days homework can take 1015 minutes of this. It is
therefore easy to understand why teachers choose not to do activities which they
accept as desirable but see as non-essential. One teacher interviewed by Farooqui

ELTIP [The English Language Teaching Improvement Project] taught us to do

warm-up activities which are mostly speaking activities in first three minutes of
the class but in reality we have to call the roll first, then have to collect the
homework. In todays class, as you saw, I had to distribute the report card of
the first term final exam. After doing all these, I was left with 15 minutes to
teach those students. We should have done those warm up activities if we did
not have to do those works. (Farooqui, 2008: 202)

The time teachers need to think about adaptation, find supplementary materials or
design their own materials can also be a problem, especially when they have a
heavy administrative load or need to do a second job to make ends meet. In Laws
(1995) study of 101 secondary school teachers in Hong Kong, a context in which
teachers are expected to take on extra-curricular activities, 77.3 per cent said that
they relied on a textbook because they did not have time or resources to do
anything else. In Nicaragua, the low salaries of state school teachers obliged
several of the teachers studied by Chavez (2006) to work two or three shifts a day
(see also Arva & Medgyes, 2000 on teachers in Hungary). Similar pressures can
apply even in contexts where it might be assumed that teachers are much more
privileged. Crookes and Arakaki (1999) carried out a three-month study of 20
ESL teachers working on an intensive ESL programme in the United States of
America, many of whom had MA degrees in ESL. All were on 10-week contracts
without any form of longer-term security; as a result, many were holding down
two or three jobs and reportedly working an average of 50 hours per week. The
minority of teachers without formal training tended to rely on conventional
sources like dictionaries, textbooks (without modifying them), workbooks, and
teachers handbooks (p.3). Among the majority of trained teachers a proven
repertoire of teaching ideas and a cautiously pragmatic attitude was common
(p.4). Explanations for this pragmatism were predictable: the need to prioritize (I
want a quality personal life. And I dont want my work life to take over); to
survive, even (Im trying to avoid the hospital) and resentment at working
conditions, the feeling that if you do more than is strictly necessary you are
allowing yourself to be exploited (When Im spending [many hours] a week
which Im not being paid for, am I dedicated or am I an idiot?) (ibid.).

2.5 Lack of training

Even when the time is available, teachers may not feel able to rise to the
challenge of creating their own materials:

Even if I have enough time for material writing, I do not think I can write good
communicative materials. First, I have never been taught how to do it.
Secondly, there are few authentic English materials around me. That means I
have to create everything. Thats beyond me. (teacher cited in Li, 1998: 689)

This teacher was alluding to a period (the mid-1990s) in Korea in which teachers
were being encouraged to use Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) but no
help was available from colleagues or administrators and the curriculum and
materials to support this had not yet been published. It is generally acknowledged
that at times of curriculum change teachers need practical support and that
suitable teaching materials and especially a Teachers Book can be extremely
helpful in making concrete what is expected (Hutchinson & Torres, 1994). In
order to be able to use the materials in the way expected or to make adjustments if
the recommended approach does not work, however, teachers must have access to
the Teachers Book (which must contain suggestions on using the material
flexibly) and have the necessary training or background understanding to feel
confident about implementing ideas with which their students may be unfamiliar.
Erdoan (nd), reporting on the reactions of two Turkish secondary-school
teachers to the Learning Diary section of a coursebook based on principles of
learner training, notes that both decided to omit this because learners seemed
reluctant to speak about their diaries when asked. Invited to suggest
improvements to the book, the teachers did not suggest omitting the Learning
Diary section but instead requested more guidance in the Teachers Book,

better explanation of learner training theory

examples of practical problems that are likely to occur

possible solutions to these problems

a bibliography for further reading about learner training (p.2).

As Erdoan points out, simply promoting learner training via teaching materials
is not enough to prepare teachers psychologically to cope with unexpected
problems (ibid.).
Graves (2003), who together with a colleague conducted an online research
project with teachers from four countries, concluded that coursebook activities
were unsuccessful not because they were boring or too complicated but because
learners had not been properly prepared:

Preparing the learners means two things. First it means orienting them to the
content and purpose of the activity, that is, making sure they know what the
activity is about and why they are doing it. Second, it means making sure they
understand the steps of the activity, how to do it. However, simply telling the
learners the what, how, and why of an activity doesnt prepare them. They need
to demonstrate either verbally or in action that they have understood. (Graves,
2003: 231, original emphases)

This is good advice, but the best follows: Preparing the learner means preparing
yourself (ibid.) and Graves suggests the sorts of question teachers might ask
themselves in order to prepare clear explanations and anticipate problems.
The importance of training is explicitly highlighted in Al-Yousefs discussion
of factors which impeded the effective implementation of the new
communicatively oriented national textbook in Saudi Arabia: teachers were not
provided with any training on the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
techniques . . . [or] . . . informed of the overall objectives of this new curriculum;
thus most teachers follow the traditional approach to teaching, which emphasize
the use of translation, writing, and reading rather than speaking (p.55). He
concludes: There is an urgent need for training that addresses both linguistic
competence and methodology (ibid.).
For some teachers in some contexts, lack of training means lack of alternatives:
they simply follow the book. Ravelonanahary (2007) summarizes the responses of
a minority of the teachers she surveyed in Madagascar as follows: We have no
choice since this is the only book existing at school and we find it perfect. We
follow the content and methods because we have no training in using it
effectively. . .. We find it difficult to select materials from the various activities,
exercises or situations given in the textbook (p.171).

2.6 Lack of confidence

Where contextual constraints are strong, a focus in training on language

proficiency development, methods and materials, though important, may not be
enough. Akbulut (2007) assessed the impact of training on 13 novice teachers
who had completed a 4-year undergraduate degree in TEFL at Boazici
University, Turkey, which had included two comprehensive materials
development courses given in successive semesters (p.6). As a result of this
training, 85% of the participants (11/13) felt competent in materials evaluation
and preparation, yet when they found themselves in schools 55% of them (7/13)
stated that they generally followed the textbook or the materials that were
assigned by the institution (p.9). One reason for this seems to have been the
requirement to prepare for common exams. However, the situation was apparently
more complex than this: a few of the teachers claimed that their teaching was
almost always textbook-based . . . because they did not feel confident enough to
move beyond the textbook (ibid.). In part, this may have been because they felt
obliged to work with the book and found this difficult: They claimed that they
spent much time in trying to make their students understand the instructions and
the material via using L1 instructions and translations of the lexical structures
provided in the books (ibid.). The novice teachers own conclusion, as
represented by the researcher, is interesting: they felt unable to apply what they
had learned during their undergraduate course either because of the strict
curriculum or lack of proper facilities (ibid.). An outsider might question this
analysis: while curriculum/exams and facilities can undoubtedly limit teachers
freedom, the lack of confidence that the novice teachers also referred to is
certainly an influential factor. One might therefore wonder whether one of the
aims of teacher education in materials evaluation and design indeed, any teacher
education programme should not be to prepare teachers for the kinds of
constraints they are likely to encounter and equip them to deal with these.
Though increased confidence may come with experience (and 63% of the
teachers in Laws (1995) study of 101 Hong Kong secondary school teachers
believed that they would be less dependent on textbooks if they had more
experience), other factors also contribute to confidence. One of these is the
teachers perceptions of their own language proficiency, and another the nature of
the teachers professional education. Almost 40 per cent of the teachers in Laws
study acknowledged that they did not have the expertise or knowledge to design
their own materials. We are told that approximately a quarter of the respondents
did not hold a professional qualification. If the training received by the remaining
teachers included a component on materials adaptation and development, then it
was clearly not sufficient.

2.7 Lack of motivation

This applies to those teachers who have come to see teaching as simply a way of
making a living and their responsibility as being to teach the book. They do not
need to prepare for lessons because they begin again where they left off. The
reality is often more complex, of course, as Crookes and Arakaki (1999)
discovered. Teachers motivation can be affected by pressures such as lack of
systemic freedom, lack of time and logistical constraints, as well as lack of
opportunities for professional development (training). As Chavez (2006: 33)
comments: It is certainly very difficult to be motivated if the resources are
limited, the contextual conditions are not adequate, the work is extreme, and the
salary is too low. In the Nicaraguan situation described by Chavez, the books
that were being used had been published 20 years earlier and were not suitable for
the context; there were not enough books for learners; and there were not enough
Teachers Books. In these situations, we may feel sympathy for the teachers (and
blame whatever bodies are responsible on their behalf), but we need to remember
that if lack of teacher motivation means that learners are deprived of the
opportunity to learn it is the learners who suffer.

2.8 Faith in materials

One further reason why teachers may not adapt and supplement a coursebook is
that they do not see any reason to do so. After all, as Ramrez Salas (2004: 3) puts
it, everything they need is already in a textbook elaborated by people who really
know. The textbook is, in effect, a holy book, to be followed religiously. This
attitude is most likely to be found in contexts where one or more of the factors
already discussed also apply for example, where teachers are untrained or
inexperienced. It can also be reinforced when teachers are given little freedom.

3. Why do teachers not use systematic approaches to

textbook selection and subsequent evaluation?
As we have seen in Chapters One and Three, much hangs on textbook selection.
If a suitable textbook is chosen, both teachers and learners feel better supported,
and less adaptation and supplementation is needed. Yet when a decision needs to
be made as to the choice of a textbook those most affected (teachers and students)
are often not involved. The decision is made for them by the Ministry, an
administrator or a head of department (Chapter Five). Unfortunately, even when
teachers have the freedom to make the choice, either collectively or individually,
they seem not to approach this in a systematic way (Chapter Five). One of the
strongest recommendations in the professional literature is that a checklist be used
(Chapter Three). This would encourage detailed examination of the materials
under consideration and allow for easy comparison of both materials packages
and teacher-evaluator judgements of these. Careful thought is needed, however, as
to the design of checklists in terms of what they demand of teachers and how they
are used (Chapter Five).
Some of the reasons why teachers do not follow this professional advice, such
as lack of time, lack of training and lack of confidence, have been referred to in
Chapter Five and are identical or similar to those discussed above in relation to
adaptation and supplementation.
Although lack of time is a factor frequently mentioned by teachers themselves,
this is arguably less important than two other lacks: lack of training (and the
related lack of awareness of the professional literature) and lack of confidence
(see, for example, Law, 1995; Wang, 2005 and Sampson, 2009). Peacocks
(1997a) speculations that teachers may be unaware of the existence of checklists
or cannot obtain them, do not want to make the effort of using them or are put off
by their length and apparently complicated nature (p.1) all point to the necessity
for teacher education in materials evaluation.
If textbook evaluation does not form part of teacher training (initial or in-
service) and if teachers do not attend conferences or subscribe to teachers
magazines or professional journals in which this subject is discussed, it is hardly
surprising if they are not aware of the advice that is available (though papers on
the topic of materials evaluation are now easily accessible on the internet). As a
consequence, when they are in a position to make a decision about textbook
choice they simply rely on their individual or collective instinct. Moreover,
experienced teachers who feel they have a good understanding of the needs of the
kinds of learners they teach will often feel quite confident that they can make the
right choice. They may also reject suggestions that they should approach textbook
selection in a different, more systematic way on the grounds that this would be
too time-consuming, implying that they also feel it to be unnecessary (see, for
example, Fredriksson & Olsson, 2006). Faced with this wall of confidence, a new
but very inexperienced junior teacher is unlikely even to offer an opinion. As a
relatively inexperienced Japanese teacher confided, When I and my co-workers
chose coursebooks, I just said Yes to their selection. I was the youngest, and
they were more experienced and knew students needs more (Matsumara, 2010).
In such circumstances, even those who happened to have some knowledge of the
procedures suggested in the professional literature might well think it best to keep
such knowledge to themselves.
Although the focus of much of the materials evaluation literature has been on
predictive evaluation, the argument for careful evaluation also extends to in-use
and retrospective evaluation (Chapter Three). Many teachers will evaluate
coursebooks and other materials at the point when they are planning schemes of
work and individual lessons, principally in order to determine what to use/omit.
However, inexperienced teachers are likely to be less comfortable adapting
materials in the course of a lesson than their more experienced colleagues
(Sampson, 2009), and there is little evidence of organized in-use evaluation. Ellis
(1998) has speculated that after using a book day after day teachers know all they
need to about it or that they see the task as just too daunting, and McGrath (2002)
has suggested that in-use and post-use evaluation do not happen because time has
not been allocated for this. What teachers themselves tend to say is that they do
carry out both forms of evaluation but in a much more impressionistic, less formal
way than is suggested in the literature (see, for example, Law 1995).

4. Why do teachers not involve learners in materials

evaluation and development?
We have heard a great deal in recent years about the shift to learner-centred
classrooms and some of the evaluation research discussed in Chapters Five and
Seven did indeed elicit learners views. However, there is no evidence of learners
views being sought as an input to the coursebook selection process, and relatively
few accounts of their being involved in materials development.
Explanations may again be similar to those offered above. Lack of training, for
example, might account for a lack of awareness of the contributions that learners
could make, particularly in relation to learner-generated materials, which have
still not had the attention they deserve. The perceived pressure to get through the
book (lack of systemic freedom) also militates against openness to learner inputs.
Asked if he ever encouraged pupils to bring materials to class, a Chinese teacher
in a senior middle school said: I will ask my students to find something
interesting, to bring to the class and we will stick it to the board, for example, for
students to refer to after class if they have interest. The same teacher added: the
textbook is very much important in my educational setting. We didnt talk about
students, just about teachers. We have competition pressure. . . . All of us want to
follow the textbook first, because the content of the exam will be selected from
the textbook, and exams we cannot decide by ourselves, but by the school or the
coordinator of our team.

5. Summary and conclusions

Comparison of Chapters Five to Seven with Chapters Two to Four revealed some
gaps between practice (what actually happens) and theory (as recommended
by textbook writers, in the professional literature and on teacher education
courses). The focus of this chapter has been on explanations. As we have seen,
various contextual constraints (situated and external in Zheng & Davisons
terms) limit opportunities for teacher autonomy, and individual factors such as
time, inexperience and, related to this, lack of confidence, also play a part.
Because there is no single, simple explanation for the gaps, they cannot be
bridged by a single solution. In Part Three, we will consider how teachers and
those interacting with them directly and indirectly might respond to this


Implications for teachers, managers, ministries,

publishers and coursebook writers, and research

. . . although teachers are aware that language textbooks contain

pedagogically useful materials designed to help learners adopt a broader
orientation to language learning and use, their use of textbooks was often
replaced by test format worksheets.
(Lee & Bathmaker, 2007: 368)
Despite the good work of journals and international and local teachers
associations, ELT is still profoundly isolationist. In sequestered educational
pockets the world over there are enthusiasts busily re-inventing the wheel for
themselves. There comes a point at which the diversity inherent in ELT teacher-
training and educational practice becomes nothing less than a confusion which
impedes professional development. Nowhere is this clearer than in the inchoate
state of affairs surrounding the development and evaluation of textbooks.
(Sheldon, 1987b: 5, emphasis added)

1. Introduction
One of the most obvious implications of Part Two of this book is that the case for
teacher education in materials evaluation and design can be argued not only on
theoretical grounds but is also a practical necessity. This has been recognized in
some quarters, but not all: materials evaluation and design is not a core
component of pre-service curricula, and on postgraduate programmes usually
figures only as an elective or as a small part of a broader module.
More generally, Chapters Five to Eight have revealed a gap between what
(many) teachers do and the expectations of the professional community, as
reflected in the views expressed in Chapters Two to Four. To point to such a gap
seems to imply that teachers are failing to live up to their responsibility, that their
practice is deficient relative to the theory. However, another possibility is that the
theory is deficient because it fails to take into account the reality experienced by
teachers. The studies referred to in Chapter Eight demonstrate very clearly that
many teachers are asked to work with tools (books) which are inappropriate or
inadequate in work environments which militate against the kind of critical,
creative teaching advocated in Part One.
In Section 2, below, we consider what teachers themselves can do to improve
the situation. We then discuss the implications for those who, in one way or
another, influence the published materials that teachers work with and how they
work with them. Section 3 is addressed to managers such as Heads of
Department in institutions, Section 4 to Ministries of Education, and Section 5
to publishers and coursebook writers. Section 6 makes recommendations for
further research. Teacher education is the focus of Chapter Ten.

2. Implications for teachers

2.1 Introduction
As Tomlinson (2011e) points out, many teachers who come to conferences and
workshops are untypically knowledgeable, enthusiastic and discerning (p.296,
emphasis added) and this applies equally to those who subscribe to magazines and
journals for teachers and read books about teaching. Although there is an
opportunity dimension to this (some have opportunities to attend conferences, the
money to buy journals or access to libraries and others do not), motivation the
enthusiasm of which Tomlinson writes is also a factor. The teachers who
probably need to read this section most are those who would not read it of their
own accord. It is therefore addressed primarily to the self-directed minority, in the
hope that they will act as change agents within their own professional

2.2 Towards more learner-centred teaching

One of the strongest reasons for teachers to adapt and supplement textbooks is
that voiced by students in Chapter Seven. Many students accept that a textbook
has value but they do not want teachers simply to work their way through the
book. They want the teacher to breathe life into the book; and they want some
variety in the form of supplementary materials which have intrinsic interest and
relevance. This means that materials selection and materials use have to take
learners interests and preferences into account, ideally directly rather than on the
basis of assumptions or predictions.
Some teachers may be reluctant to spend class time in seeking information or
feedback from learners. An excellent source of ideas for supplementary language
practice activities which will also reveal learners attitudes to their coursebooks is
Davis, Garside and Rinvolucri (1998). This contains activities which variously
encourage language learners to preview, analyse, evaluate, comment on, teach
from their coursebooks and even imagine what the authors of the coursebook
are like and interview them (or the empty chair which represents them). The
teacher using such materials would learn a great deal about students beliefs and
attitudes and, indeed, about their often underrated capacities for judgement.
Within the language proficiency component of a pre-service teacher education
course for non-native speakers of English, activities of this kind could have
particular appeal. Learners might also enjoy and benefit from being asked to find
or create materials that can replace or supplement part of a coursebook lesson.
The responses of learners quoted in Chapter Seven suggest that this is at least
worth trying.

2.3 The value of collaboration

Any solitary enterprise is difficult and teachers working alone to develop

materials can feel lonely. By working in a wholehearted way with others, they can
become aware of common problems, exchange ideas for overcoming them, work
together to produce materials, then pilot and evaluate them. What probably
seemed a time-consuming, laborious, even impossible task for the individual
becomes manageable, interesting, and satisfying when one works as a group; and
the more seriously one takes this process, the better the results. As Yan (2007)
points out: Joint team efforts may provide teachers with opportunities to share
experience and expertise, to exchange various skills, talents and points of view;
moreover, with a supportive team culture established, the institutional
understanding and support is more likely to occur (ibid.). This last point is also
important: a group may well be able to negotiate changes within an institution that
would have been impossible for an individual.
Where encouragement and facilitating structures are not provided by the
institution (e.g. time set aside for meetings, a place to meet, resources), teachers
may feel the need to set up a self-help teacher development (TD) group (see, for
example, Head & Taylor, 1997 for ideas). Even where an institution has a staff
development programme, a TD group can be a good idea. Staff development
programmes, especially in large organizations, are not always responsive to the
subject-specific needs and concerns of classroom teachers. In one of the three
teaching contexts studied by Johansson (2006), the four English teachers met
regularly for what they called ideas seminars in which they would discuss new
ideas, show each other material and exchange material with each other (p.15).
2.4 Professionalism

Underlying everything that has been said here is a notion of the teacher as
professional. This implies a sense of responsibility towards those with whom one
is working (learners, in the first instance), but also a self-directed determination to
develop ones own expertise. If support for professional development is not
provided by the employer, then it falls to teachers themselves to acquire the
necessary expertise through their own efforts, by accessing the experience of
others (through reading, attending conferences and talking to colleagues, for
instance) and by experimentation and self-evaluation, with input from students
and colleagues. A professional teacher can be expected to exercise autonomy
(McGrath, 2000). This is much easier, of course, in an encouraging and
supportive environment.

3. Implications for institutional managers

Managers here refers to those within institutions who have responsibility for
decisions which impact on teacher freedoms. In most institutions, this will be
someone in the role of head of department or director of studies, but it may also
be a head teacher or an administrator. Managerial roles may also be distributed
among senior staff.

3.1 Materials selection, evaluation and resource development

The situation described in Chapter Five has certain clear implications as far as
materials (and particularly coursebook) selection is concerned. In some contexts,
teachers feel disenfranchised, and resentful and frustrated as a consequence: they
are expected to teach with a book, but do not have any say in the selection of that
book. The voting system adopted in some institutions may have its disadvantages,
but it is at least an acknowledgement of teachers right to be involved in a
decision that affects them.
In addition to wanting a voice in the selection of materials, teachers call for
principles/criteria which can make the selection process more systematic. As we
have seen in Chapter Three, a great many ready-made instruments are available,
but if the decision is taken to use one of these, then collective customization is
advised. The alternative is to start from a basic set of criteria which can be
elaborated in ways which are relevant and meaningful to those who will use them,
but which can also be easily revised in the light of experience. Both approaches
would offer an opportunity for teacher development and should ensure an even
greater feeling of ownership.
Systematic predictive coursebook evaluation can also identify gaps in the
materials selected which can only be filled by resource development, and
collaborative work to create these resources will be of practical benefit to all. It
will also raise critical awareness, provide a further opportunity for teachers to
learn from each other and develop teachers confidence in their ability to adapt
and design materials.
Chapter Eight posed the question Why dont teachers do what theyre
supposed to? Some of the answers lie in factors which are outside teachers
control (such as the fit between prescribed materials and examinations see
Section 4), but others are very much in the hands of managers. Apart from the
managers willingness to share responsibility for decision-making concerning
materials selection with teachers, these would include creating time for meetings
in which materials in use could be discussed and ideas for adaptation and
supplementation exchanged; providing the kind of in-house training and ongoing
support that would give teachers the confidence to use the materials critically and
creatively; and setting up systems for the sharing of the resources that are
developed. A good manager would also want to take care that coursebooks and
other materials that are purchased are also evaluated at the end of a period of use
to ensure that the procedure by which they were selected is as reliable as it could
be (see Chapter Three).

3.2 Teacher autonomy

Institutional policies which constrain teacher freedoms may be well-intentioned,

but are not necessarily in the best interests of learners (many of whom, as we have
seen, are bored by an undiluted diet of textbook) or teachers, whose professional
development is stunted if they cannot experiment. A constant theme in these
suggestions is therefore the shift from a bureaucratic structure in which a single
individual directs the separate activities of other individuals to a more democratic
structure in which the same individual has responsibility for coordinating the
collaborative activity of others or may even delegate some responsibility to
working groups. The latter structure not only makes fuller use of the human
resources within the teaching force, it also encourages collegiality and
Commenting on teacher freedom from the perspectives of both a teacher and a
manager, Twine (2010: 51) concludes:

Learners and teachers need to feel they belong to a body in which things are
done in a certain, effective and professional way. This can only be achieved
through a degree of conformity and managers may have to set limits. . . .
Lesson planning, recording and acting upon individual student needs
meaningfully, and selecting or inventing learning activities within the
classroom, are where freedoms for teachers should lie.

This implies not only a level of understanding on the part of teachers as to what is
expected of them and the limits of their autonomy, it also assumes a level of trust
in teacher professionalism on the part of managers. Where either of these
conditions is lacking, some form of positive action on the part of the manager
may be necessary. Tsuis (2003) study describes Marina, a panel chair in Hong

Marina worked hard to keep up the tradition of modifying and adapting

textbooks. This was not easy because this practice had been questioned by
some colleagues who thought that it would be simpler just to follow the
textbook. Marina had to insist on being critical about textbooks and improving
them. If they gave up this practice, the English panel [department] would
stagnate, she felt. To set an example, she adapted the materials and shared them
with colleagues. (p.97)

As this quotation illustrates, the cultural converse of a lack of systemic freedom

need not be total freedom and individualism: it may instead be a climate in which
the desirability of certain goals are agreed, but teachers use their own preferred
means to reach these and support and stimulate each other by sharing ideas and
materials. Where adaptation is the norm and there are models available, the
inexperienced will gain the confidence to adapt; where website-sharing is the
norm, the inexperienced can contribute on an equal basis; and, when necessary,
the manager may have to lead from the front.

4. Implications for ministries of education

4.1 Integration of teaching syllabus, textbook and examination

Teachers frequently complain of a lack of fit between the materials they are
expected to use and the examination for which students are preparing. What
makes matters worse, is that they often have no say in which materials are to be
used. The response of Singaporean teachers in vocational schools, described by
Lee and Bathmaker (2007), is typical: although teachers are aware that language
textbooks contain pedagogically useful materials designed to help learners adopt a
broader orientation to language learning and use, their use of textbooks was often
replaced by test format worksheets (p.368).
For an outsider, possible solutions to the problem of incoherence in centralized
systems are easily described, if perhaps harder to implement. Syllabus
development, textbook production and examinations need to be part of an
integrated operation. It helps if they are housed in the same building, but regular
coordination meetings should be a sine qua non. Teacher interests are best catered
for if there is teacher (and, if appropriate, inspector) representation on

4.2 Research-informed, realistic, contextually sensitive syllabuses

There is another kind of disjunction that is just as important, and that is the
variation in teaching situations within a country (often characterized as the urban
rural divide). In such cases, official/institutional goals and syllabuses often seem
to be out of step with classroom realities and, if this is the case, are meaningless.
Context-specific research is needed which takes in the whole spectrum of
teaching situations, teachers and learners that constitute the system. Goals derived
from that research can then be formulated which are realistic in terms of their
minimum expectations; teaching syllabuses established which are appropriate
(and perhaps flexible) in terms of their content; and, forms of assessment devised
which reflect the objectives, content and emphases of these syllabuses, but above
all permit learners to show what they know and can do.

4.3 Materials
The starting-point for writers of national textbooks may be a syllabus, a national
examination framework, and current theories of language learning and language
teaching, but in order to produce materials which will facilitate teaching and
learning writers also need to consider what is known about effective practices and
constraints in the context, that is, the research mentioned above. As successful
textbook writing projects have demonstrated (see, for example, Popovici &
Bolitho, 2003 on the Romanian textbook writing project, and Tomlinson, 2011b:
245 and Lund, 2010 on the Namibian project directed by Brian Tomlinson),
individual writers need not have prior textbook writing experience, but they must
have access to professional expertise. Regular meetings between the writing team
and Ministry are also desirable.
Piloting during the writing process is highly desirable, but regular
review/evaluation of the materials also needs to follow the full-scale introduction
of the book. Feedback should be elicited from inspectors/supervisors (if
appropriate), teachers, and learners and used to inform revisions so that those who
have contributed know they have been listened to. From a longer-term
perspective, evaluation should also consider learning outcomes, as measured by
examination results but also performance in subsequent levels of the educational
system (e.g. the transition from primary to secondary, lower secondary to upper
secondary, secondary to tertiary). Ministries also need to remember that when
there are insufficient materials for learners, when teachers do not have access to a
Teachers Book, or when components of a new course are not supplied, a
teachers task is made much more difficult.
In contexts where a Ministry requires that textbooks be approved, approval
processes must be explicit and criteria transparent. Committees should include
elected teacher representatives. Where institutions have a choice of textbook,
either from an approved list or a free choice, guidelines should be provided on
selection (and ongoing evaluation) processes. Advice on course planning which
recognizes that schools and learners differ is also desirable.

4.4 Teacher education

If, within a particular educational system, pre-service and in-service programmes

are part of the same vision and the latter can build on the former, it should be
possible to plan an approach to materials evaluation and design that differentiates
between the likely needs of future teachers (in the first instance, for teaching
practice) and practising teachers. However, the reality is that there is not always a
materials component in pre-service programmes, and even when there is, the
objectives and content of this component might differ markedly from one
institution to another. The following quotation comes from a book published
some 25 years ago:

Despite the good work of journals and international and local teachers
associations, ELT is still profoundly isolationist. In sequestered educational
pockets the world over there are enthusiasts busily re-inventing the wheel for
themselves. There comes a point at which the diversity inherent in ELT
teacher-training and educational practice becomes nothing less than a confusion
which impedes professional development. Nowhere is this clearer than in the
inchoate state of affairs surrounding the development and evaluation of
textbooks. (Sheldon 1987b: 5, emphasis added)

Although there has been progress, evidenced in the number of courses dealing
with the topic of materials evaluation and development and writing about this,
Sheldons basic point still holds good: there is as yet no agreement as to the
objectives and, therefore, content of such courses (see Chapters Three and Four).
At the same time, it needs to be recognized that teachers level of linguistic
confidence (related to their language proficiency or their knowledge about the
language) will influence the extent to which they are able to critique and adapt the
language content of the materials. Support for teachers who are not English-
trained or who lack confidence because their language proficiency is weak must
therefore go hand in hand with any attempt to change the way they use textbooks.
5. Implications for publishers and textbook writers

5.1 Design

The criticisms made of visual design in both student and teacher materials (see
Chapter Three) suggest that much could be done to improve clarity, coherence,
variety and general visual appeal.

5.2 Meeting the demand for relevance

The point has been made in earlier chapters that hard-pressed teachers need
materials that require little preparation. At the same time, they want materials that
are relevant to their learners. National coursebooks and privately published local
coursebooks are often seen as inferior to global coursebooks because they are less
attractive or less interesting, but global coursebooks are criticized for their lack of
relevance. International publishers have responded to these needs and wants in a
number of ways. These include multi-component courses, the provision of
photocopiable and customizable materials, such as tests, and the development of
local versions of global courses.
Multi-component courses are expensive for publishers to produce and therefore
expensive to buy; to be fully exploitable, they require certain technological
resources to be available; and the mix-and-match (or pick and mix) approach
is demanding in terms of teacher planning time. Tomlinson et al. (2001: 98) note:
A number of publishers have told us that they only publish multiple-component
courses because their rivals do, and that they would be happy to jettison many of
the money-losing components (such as videos and resource packs) and to return
to the days when a course consisted of a students book, a cassette, and a
teachers book.
From a publishers point of view, the local version represents an extra expense,
and has to be justified in financial terms. Tomlinson (2010b), who seems to be
thinking primarily about the relevance of texts, suggests that publishers might
provide more material online so that it can be modified more easily by teachers
themselves. Masuhara et al. (2008: 298) are therefore adopting a different
perspective when they criticize the trend towards photocopiable and customizable
materials on pedagogic grounds (the materials favour teaching and testing
explicit and discrete knowledge rather than nurturing skills or providing
interactive face-to-face feedback). While there may be some force in this
criticism, it has to be recognized that there is a place in language learning for
discrete knowledge, provided this is balanced by opportunities for other kinds of
learning and practice; and that interactive feedback need not be face-to-face
indeed, many learners like the instant neutral feedback provided by a computer.
There are important differences, however, between photocopiable and
customizable materials. From a pedagogic perspective, photocopiable materials
lend themselves to unthinking use, and yet are just as likely to need adaptation as
any general-purpose material. As far as logistics are concerned, both require a
photocopier, while customizable materials need a computer and printer. These
facilities are still not available in institutions universally.

5.3 Further steps

Publishers and writers could take a number of further steps which might be both
simpler and more cost-effective.

The provision in Teachers Books (whether accompanying global or local

courses) of ideas for adaptation (and especially personalization and
localization) and additional activities. More specifically, Teachers Books
can include lesson plans which show how the material could be adapted for
different lesson lengths; illustrate how materials can be adapted to cater for
different learner needs and different levels of proficiency; and provide
additional photocopiable materials (Bell & Gower, 2011).
The provision in Students Books of engaging texts. A textbook was
initially, of course, a book which contained written texts and, as we have
seen, teachers are concerned that texts and they seem to be thinking
primarily of reading texts should be interesting to their learners. One of
the findings of Tomlinson et al.s (2001) survey of adult courses was that:
The reading texts which are provided are usually too short and bland to
provide anything to think or talk about. The listening texts also tend to be
fairly mundane interviews, or monologues about hobbies, jobs, journeys,
customs, routines, etc. Many of them are quite realistic (and even
interesting) but responding to them calls for very little cognitive or affective
engagement (p.299). Masuhara et al.s (2008) review of eight further adult
courses found that these were dominated by listening and speaking
Teachers and learners also need materials that offer scope for
differentiation, different levels of challenge and options to suit learners
activity preferences in short, choice. Tomlinsons (2008b) suggestions
include the provision of different versions of the same text with generic
Activities which invite learners to draw comparisons (e.g. between their
own culture or experience and that depicted) would be one way in which
global courses could attempt to reduce the sense of alienation felt by some
learners. If the topics, situations, images and underlying values presented
are too far removed from learners experience, there will still be a problem,
of course.
The coursebooks examined by Tomlinson et al. (2001) looked very
European, despite what seems to be a token attempt to include a few
photographs of other continents and cultures (p.89). Masuhara et al. (2008)
note in their review that Almost all the photos we see in the current courses
seem to be things British or western . . ., possibly biased towards young,
healthy and smiling faces, although some books offer some variety of
figures from different ethnic groups and different age ranges (p.303). The
same point applies to cultural values (see Chapter Three). Learners need to
feel that the material is relevant to their worlds, their lives. Teachers can
try to localize and personalize, but this is only a partial solution to the
problem of identification, and teachers would need to do less if publishers
did more.

5.4 The courage to be different

Suggestions have been made over the years that the kind of dynamic, creative
interaction between teacher and learners and among learners that stimulates
motivation and leads to real learning can best be facilitated by the provision of
core resources that can be used flexibly (see, for example, Brumfit, 1979;
Allwright, 1981; Sheldon, 1988; Maley, 2011). One of the problems with this
proposal is that it makes assumptions on the one hand about teacher expertise and
proficiency and on the other about the willingness of students (and, if relevant,
their parents and administrators) to accept the fact that the course that one group
of students follow will be very different from that experienced by another, and
that opportunities for students of previewing and reviewing lesson material will
be greatly reduced. In contexts where teachers are capable and learners open, this
is nevertheless an exciting possibility; but for it to be more than a possibility, a
publisher must be willing to take a financial risk.
There is also the not insignificant issue of determining what ought to constitute
the core.
One of the criticisms made of coursebooks is that they fail to reflect the
findings of applied linguistics research (see Chapter Three). In response, Richards
(2006: 23) makes this point: the success of teaching materials is not dependent
upon the extent to which they are informed by research . . . research-based
teaching materials have sometimes been spectacular failures in the marketplace
because they failed to consider the role of situational constraints. The argument
for situational research was made in Section 4, above. The problem for materials
developers (textbook writers and publishers) is, of course, to decide which other
research is relevant.
In Chapter One, brief reference was made to English as a lingua franca (ELF).
The potential implications of this movement are wider and perhaps much more
momentous than has yet been realized. As outlined by Ur (2009), these include:

A change in the concept of what English is: an internationally

comprehensible variety of the language rather than a single native model.
A change in the goal of English teaching: to produce fully competent
English-knowing bilinguals rather than imitation native speakers.
A change in the cultural background to English courses: home and
international culture predominate.
A change in materials and test design, relating to both content and language.

A change in the image of the English teacher: native-speakerness less

important than linguistic competence, teaching competence, intercultural
The logic of the fourth bullet point is inescapable. Will this encourage a publisher
to dare to be different?

6. Implications for research

6.1 The need for further research

Earlier chapters of this book have revealed that teachers may not be doing
(especially in relation to materials evaluation) what coursebook writers and others
expect them to. It would be helpful to know why: is it that the theory fails to take
account of practical reality or that practitioners are unaware of the theory? We
have also seen that descriptions of adaptation procedures and principles in the
professional literature are somewhat confusing and discussion of supplementation
very limited. Further research into teachers practices in both these areas would
appear to be necessary to establish a firmer theoretical foundation for descriptions
of desirable teacher practices.
Research agendas have, of course, been suggested by a number of previous
writers on materials (e.g. Byrd, 1995b; McGrath, 2002, chapter 10; Tomlinson,
2003c: 4556; 2011d; Harwood, 2010b; Masuhara, 2011). The purpose of this
section is not to summarize those proposals but rather to draw implications from
the evidence presented in earlier chapters. It would be surprising, of course, if
there were not some overlap.

6.2 Suggested research foci

6.2.1 The institution

All systems can benefit from a fresh scrutiny from time to time, and the following
suggestions might be used by an institutional manager, for instance, as a form of
quality assurance check. They might also be used as part of a study for comparing
perspectives (and any overlap with the questions in Sections 6.2.2 and 6.2.3 is
therefore deliberate).

What stages are involved in course planning? How are these justified?

How are materials selected? What is the process and what criteria are used?
What evidence is there that this process works optimally?
If a coursebook is used, are teachers expected to adapt and supplement the
book? If so, what evidence is there that they do so? Is practical guidance
available? For example, are they made aware of suitable sources of
supplementary material?
If decisions concerning material selection and evaluation are delegated to
teachers, what forms of guidance, support and monitoring are in place?
Is there a formal system for sharing and storing supplementary materials or
materials which teachers have written themselves?
Are coursebook materials evaluated during use and after use? If so, how is
the information used?

6.2.2 The teacher perspective

The following questions could be explored by a lone teacher, a group of teachers
or an in-service teacher working with a teacher educator. There is a particular
need for observation-based studies, preferably with a longitudinal dimension to
provide an evidential basis for descriptions of effective practices to be used in
teacher education. These might also serve other purposes, both institutional and
personal-professional. The answers to several questions would be of particular
interest to coursebook writers.

How is planning for courses organized what steps are involved? Do

teachers feel the planning process works well?
What do teachers see as the role of materials (and specifically a coursebook,
if one is used)?
How are materials selected (process and criteria)? What is the role of
teachers in the selection process? Do they feel the selection process works
What do teachers see as their role vis--vis materials and learners?

Do teachers feel they have enough knowledge of what materials are

available (including online materials)? Do they have easy access to enough
Where teachers are using one or more coursebooks, what do they think of
these? What do they like/dislike? What do they want from coursebooks?
Where teachers are using a single coursebook, are they free to adapt it in
any way they wish (e.g. by omitting or making changes to exercises or
activities)? If they have this freedom, do they use it? Are they free to
supplement the coursebook? If so, do they?
At the lesson-planning stage, what influences teachers specific decisions to
adapt coursebook or other materials (e.g. which exercises to omit/adapt and,
in the case of adaptation, how to do this)? What influences specific
supplementation decisions (e.g. whether to borrow from an existing source,
look for authentic materials, write original materials)?
What influences further materials-related decisions during a lesson?

Do teachers share materials? Do they work together to develop materials?

Do teachers advise learners on how to use and access materials out of class?

Do teachers evaluate materials while using them? If so, what kinds of record
do they keep of this process, and how is this record used subsequently?
Do teachers involve learners in materials evaluation, selection or creation?
If so, how? If not, why not?
Do teachers evaluate materials at the end of a period of use? If so, in what
ways and how is this information used?
Do teachers agree that they should possess the necessary knowledge and
skills to plan courses, select, adapt, supplement, write and evaluate
materials? What training have they received in these areas, and what effect
has this had on their practices? What training and ongoing support is
available in the workplace? What do they see as their continuing needs?

6.2.3 The learner perspective

We know far too little about learners perspective on materials, on the roles of the
teacher, or on their own roles. Answers to the following questions would provide
useful input for individual teachers and, more widely, for coursebook writers and
teacher educators.

Where a coursebook is being used, what do learners see as the purpose of

the book? What do they like and dislike about the coursebook they are
using? What do they want from coursebooks and materials, more generally?
What do they see as their own role in relation to materials? If they have a
coursebook, how do they use it outside class? Do they tend to pay attention
only to those parts emphasized by the teacher (or those parts relevant to an
external exam, if these are different)? What do they do with handouts after a
What do learners see as the role of the teacher in relation to the coursebook?

What do they feel about the teachers use of the coursebook? Do they feel
s/he uses it too much/not enough? Are they aware of any adaptations made
by the teacher? If so, what do they feel about these?
What do learners feel about any non-coursebook materials provided by the
teacher and the relative interest and value of these?
Have they been asked by their teacher for their opinions about the materials
they are using (coursebooks and/or other materials), their interests or their
preferred classroom activities? Do they feel their interests, preferences and
opinions should be considered?
Do learners feel they should have a role in deciding which materials to use
(e.g. choosing a coursebook, selecting texts)? Do they feel it would be a
good idea for the teacher to ask them to bring useful materials to class or
even create them?
How do they react when asked to use materials selected or created by other
learners or when given the opportunity to create such materials?

6.2.4 Teacher education

There seems little doubt that much of what has been written about materials, their
selection and their use has not been read by classroom teachers. Crookes and
Arakaki (1999) conclude their small-scale study of teachers in the United States
with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion to teacher educators that those privileged to
be in positions in which they can investigate the extent to which they have
grounds for optimism concerning the uptake of their work among the population
it is presumably intended to benefit might find it enlightening to undertake such
research (p.8).
If it is indeed the case that classroom teachers, for the most part, do not read the
professional literature, this strengthens the argument that materials evaluation and
materials development should be a core component of pre-service and in-service
undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The next and final chapter of this
book offers a set of choices for the teacher educator, methodological building
blocks and threads (Woodward, 2001) which can be discarded, cut and shaped,
arranged and added to in whatever way seems to suit the needs of particular
participants in a specific context. It is essential, however, that the decisions that
are taken (objectives, content, processes and evaluation) and the effects of these
should also be a focus of research, and that the findings of this research are
disseminated as widely as possible. The inchoate state of affairs, characterized
by diversity, isolationism and wheel-reinvention, of which Sheldon (1987b: 5)
complained has gone on long enough.

Implications for teacher educators:

A practice-based proposal

One of the major problems with the current approach to English language
teacher education in the UAE is that it relies heavily on the lecturing
approach. A second problem is the lack of contact between the university
faculty and teachers in the schools. In fact, university lecturers have very
little, if any, contact with what is happening in secondary and elementary
(Guefrachi & Troudi, 2000: 189)
An in-service training course or programme is likely to be most useful if it grows
directly out of the experiences, assumptions and perceived problems of the
(Breen et al., 1989: 134)

1. Introduction
There are very few published accounts of the success or otherwise of teacher
education in materials evaluation and design (but see Breen et al., 1989; McGrath,
2000; Gonzlez Moncada, 2006; Akbulut, 2007). It is therefore difficult to know
whether gaps between practice and theory are a result of lack of training,
ineffective training, or the interaction between either of these and contextual and
individual factors. Where courses (or course components) do not at present exist,
an obvious first step would be to put these in place; and a second step would be to
ensure that courses are appropriately targeted and as effective as possible.
With the latter consideration in mind, this chapter focuses on method in teacher
education, and specifically the means by which teachers, pre-service and in-
service, can be helped to develop the awareness, knowledge, skills and attitudes
to fulfil the roles identified in previous chapters. These are represented in Table
10.1, in the form of a set of basic building blocks. From left to right, there is a
gradual shift in focus from materials evaluation to materials design (although
evaluation continues to be important in design-focused activities). Not all blocks
would be equally relevant in all contexts, and on pre-service courses coursebook
selection would logically follow work on lesson planning.

Table 10.1 Course building blocks

There is, of course, a substantial literature on teacher education and, since the
1990s, a growing body of book-length publications on language teacher education
(e.g. Richards & Nunan, 1990; Wallace, 1991; Roberts, 1998) and even trainer
training (e.g. McGrath, 1997; Malderez & Wedell, 2007; Wright & Bolitho,
2007). Method, in the sense of how to conduct courses for language teachers, is a
central theme of Woodward (1991), and Woodwards (1992) Ways of Training
is an invaluable source of practical ideas. Much of what holds good for language
teacher education in general as represented by these volumes has relevance for
teacher education in materials evaluation and design. Our concern here, however,
will be with process options (procedures, activities and tasks) with this particular
focus. These options include tutor input and assigned readings, but the overall
emphasis of the chapter is on activities which illustrate theory in practice.
The selection and organization of the building blocks and decisions on process
options represent only part of a course design. Something else is needed to bind
course components together. This coherence can be provided through the kinds of
recurrent activities, or threads, shown in Table 10.2. The threads encourage the
continuous reconsideration of professional responsibilities and roles which is
essential if teachers are to exploit the full potential of materials for language
learning. From a broader perspective, they also stimulate the development of
criticality and creativity, thereby contributing to teachers personal growth and
capacity for professional autonomy.
Section 2 draws on the teacher education literature to consider the process options
that might be used to develop teacher awareness and competence in each of the
blocks shown in Table 10.1; and Section 3 discusses the threads. In both sections,
the examples are intended simply to illustrate types of activity. It is assumed that
teacher educators will substitute their own content and experiment with
Table 10.2 Course threads

2. Blocks

2.1 Coursebook selection

Two basic approaches have been suggested as ways of encouraging and
facilitating systematic textbook evaluation for selection purposes. One of these is
to start from an existing evaluation checklist. Tanner and Green (1998), for
instance, provide their own evaluation chart. Trainees use this to evaluate a
coursebook, and then evaluate the chart itself.
For more experienced teachers, a different approach might be more
appropriate. Cunningsworth (1979) recommends the following procedure, in
which participants are first helped to develop and organize their own criteria for
evaluation before the teacher educator presents a checklist:

1 Participants, in small groups, discuss their own criteria for deciding the
usefulness of a coursebook.
2 Groups share their conclusions. The teacher educator organizes these under
headings such as Language, Methodology, and Psychological Factors, and
suggests any additions.
3 The teacher educator presents his/her own set of criteria in the form of a
checklist (which conveniently makes use of the same headings). These
criteria are then compared with those suggested by participants and either
accepted or modified.
4 Participants, again in small groups, are asked to use the agreed criteria to
evaluate a coursebook and then to report back to the class. Each group is
given a different book and the supporting materials and directed to look at
the book as a whole but examine a (specified) typical unit in depth.

A further advantage of the kind of workshop approach suggested by

Cunningsworth (1979), exemplified in Guefrachi and Troudi (2000), and made
explicit in the final stage of Tanner and Green (1998), is that it allows or even
encourages participants to look critically at the criteria/checklist with which they
have been working. Richards (1998a) reproduces the criteria which one group of
teachers produced under the headings that he supplied (Teacher factors, Learner
factors and Task factors). Teacher educators wishing to replicate this particular
activity could use these criteria (and categories) as an initial input for discussion
or for comparative purposes after a group has generated its own criteria. McGrath
(2002) contains a number of tasks which encourage course participants to critique
existing checklists (extracts from which are reproduced in an appendix) and
develop their own.
On longer courses and especially those which include a historical treatment of
methods, Cunningsworth suggests that participants can also be asked to evaluate
materials produced at different points in time. This can raise awareness of how
TEFL thinking has developed and is still developing, and gives access to
practical examples of methods and approaches which otherwise they may only
hear about in lectures on language teaching theory (1979: 32).
Harmer (2001: 9) proposes a more wide-ranging approach to coursebooks
consisting of a series of four stages. Although he has pre-service courses in mind,
there seems no reason why, with minor adaptations, this should not work well on
in-service courses too. In Stage 1, trainees are asked: How would you write a
coursebook, if obliged to do so? Discussion, Harmer suggests, would touch on
issues such as:

. . . theories and beliefs about language learning, on (types of) syllabus, on

topic (including looking at culture and the cultural realities of possible users),
on balance (fair representation of different genders and ethnicities), on how
authentic the language used should be, and on other issues such as price,
design, length and components. . . . Imagining what they would have to think
about brings a number of critical issues into play, providing a comprehensive
theoretical framework to the training course. (ibid.)

This prepares the ground for Stage 2 and a second question: How would you
choose a coursebook, if you were in a position to do so? To answer this question,
trainees might be referred to published checklists or alternatively be asked to
choose an aspect of textbook design and write statements expressing their own

Thus the trainees concentrating on layout and design might write that The
page should look clean and uncluttered/The illustrations should be attractive
and appropriate, etc. These statements of belief can then form the basis of a
new checklist with which to measure a series of books. The point is that in
being forced to think about what they believe in (in order to produce
statements), trainees will have to reflect on everything they know and feel
about language learning. (ibid.)
Breen et al. (1989) argue that an in-service training course or programme is
likely to be most useful if it grows directly out of the experiences, assumptions
and perceived problems of the trainees (p.134). This is all the more important
when lecturers have very little, if any, contact with what is happening in
secondary and elementary schools (Guefrachi & Troudi, 2000: 189), and is just
as relevant to pre-service courses. The kinds of activity described above provide
an introduction to procedures for systematic coursebook selection and draw on
participants experience. What seems to be missing, however, is the opportunity
for participants to talk about their attitudes to and experiences with coursebooks
and, in the case of in-service teachers, the selection procedures with which they
are familiar. Coursebook use and selection first need to be problematized.

2.2 In-course and post-course materials evaluation

A variety of practical suggestions for in-course and post-course materials
evaluation which could form the basis for discussion tasks can be found in
McGrath (2002, chapter 9) and Masuhara (2011).

2.3 Materials analysis

Materials analysis activities vary principally according to their scope, their focus,
and the approach suggested or implied.
At the macro level, such activities focus on a coursebook, and potentially the
various elements of which it is composed. Graves (2000, chapter 9) suggests a
number of questions:

What is the content? (what aspects of language, learning or social context

have the authors chosen to focus on? for example, skills, learning
strategies, North American culture)
How are the materials organized (e.g. according to topics, grammatical
features . . .?)
On what basis are the materials sequenced?

What is the content of a unit?

What are the objectives (intended learning outcomes)?

How will the material help the learner to achieve the objectives?

Specific foci suggested by Richards (1998) include:

cultural content (the treatment of, for instance, gender, ethnic minorities, the
linguistic content (comparison of how a particular linguistic form is
presented in a coursebook with, say, the description of the same form in a
reference grammar, or instances of its use in corpus data)
pedagogical content (how particular objectives are realized through tasks).
An example based on reading skills is given.
On academic courses, all of these would be suitable research topics. Littlejohn
(2011) and Ellis (2011) include examples of task analysis.
McGrath (2002, chapter 5) includes analytically oriented tasks focussing on the
objectives, language and format of coursebook exercises. Scrivener (2005)
contains examples of tasks which combine analysis with consideration of
pedagogical implications. In one task, participants are asked to consider the pros
and cons of a number of different ways in which learners might carry out an
activity for example, individually in writing, as pair work discussion (Task 15,
p.42). The task thus provides ideas as well as encouraging reflection. A more
extended task (Task 17, pp.479) incorporates analysis of the objectives of a
coursebook activity and the steps involved in using it. A series of tasks in Wright
(1987) invite reflection on the roles of materials and teacher (Tasks 403).

2.4 Materials adaptation

Structured activities focussing on adaptation tend to have two main purposes: to

raise awareness of generic forms of adaptation, and to develop the capacity for
criticality and creativity through consideration of specific examples.
Tanner and Green (1998) set two useful tasks which illustrate these differences.
In the first, participants think of ways of adapting a coursebook, compare those
with the actions recommended (remove, add, change, replace) and reflect on the
amount of work each would involve an important consideration. In the second,
participants evaluate the adaptations made to part of a coursebook unit, then
suggest ideas for alternative adaptations. McGrath (2002, chapter 5), writing for
teachers with some experience, asks participants to reflect on their reasons for
adapting published materials and the kinds of adaptation they normally make
(Task 4.5, p.67). Other tasks encourage experimentation with various forms of
adaptation and an opportunity to compare decisions with those offered.
Training activities frequently simulate lesson-planning procedures. For
example, the final stage of Harmers proposed approach is to present trainees with
a particular coursebook and ask: If you were using this book, would you use this
bit of it? Harmer states:
For every lesson or extract in the book, they will have to decide whether or not
it should be used. . . . If the decision is not to use it, they must say if they would
just omit it, or whether they would replace it with something better. If they do
want to use the extract, they will have to say whether or not they will change it
in any way and, if so, how. (Harmer, 2001: 9)

There is undoubted value for novice teachers in repeated exercises of this kind,
though most teacher educators (and trainees) would probably balk at evaluating
every lesson . . . in the book. The same basic procedure can, of course, be used
with extracts from a variety of books or the procedure can be varied. In order to
make the kinds of decisions required, however, course participants would need
some basic contextual information (e.g. on the learners, on course objectives and
on lesson length) or first determine this themselves.
A good deal more scaffolding is provided by an activity in Brown (2007). This
reproduces a two-page lesson spread containing eight exercises. Brown classifies
each of the exercises by type/purpose (e.g. warm-up, question-answer (display),
information-exchange), sets a fairly general context, and then poses a set of
prompts to encourage reflection on how the exercises might be operationalized or
adapted/supplemented. Examples include:

Is Exercise 1 really the best way to begin the lesson? . . .

Exercise 7 looks like it needs some background setting and some directions
for what students should do while they read what they should look for in
the article as they are reading. Maybe I should follow this with some oral
whole-class questions to serve as a comprehension check (rather than
Exercise 8)?
Instead of Exercise 8, I think I will consider a mixer in which I get
students to line themselves up according to how much they like some of the
foods listed in Exercise 1. That might wrap up this lesson with a focus on
the message that sweet foods arent all that healthy. (Brown, 2007: 191)
A task such as this is not only a good example of the kind of questioning that
ought to form part of coursebook-based lesson planning but also strikes a balance
between suggesting the kinds of answers that might extend the teachers own
pedagogic repertoires and encouraging them to give their own answers. Rather
than being provided with a classification of the exercises, as in this case, teachers
might be asked to do the classification themselves (Brown provides a useful
McGrath (2002, pp.859), in a task intended for more experienced teachers,
turns this procedure around by asking participants first to create their own lesson
plans based on a two-page coursebook lesson reproduced in Acklam (1994), and
then compare their decisions (to select, reject, adapt and supplement) with those
of the teacher whose lesson notes are featured in Acklams article. On a course
where participants are using the same teaching materials, teachers comparison of
their own existing lesson plans would provide a more relevant stimulus for
discussion and reflection.
Other examples are typically variations on these procedures: that is,
participants are given a coursebook extract with adaptations and asked to
comment or suggest their own adaptations and then compare these with those
supplied. Graves (2003) contains three types of data (a teachers notes on lesson
material, a description of a lesson, and a lesson transcript) illustrating adaptation
and supplementation. Readers are invited to think about why the various decisions
indicated were made, and Graves gives her own commentary. Hughes (2006), in a
very short, practical article on worksheets, invites criticism and adaptation of the
first version of a worksheet, then provides an improved version. He also offers a
number of further ideas for consideration. This article lends itself very well to a
split presentation: participants first critique and adapt version 1; they then
compare their adapted exercises with Hughess version 2 (which is not presented
as the last word), and finally discuss his further suggestions. The examples in
Graves could be exploited in a similar way by getting participants to consider
first whether the adaptations were really necessary, for instance, or what
alternative forms of adaptation might have been used and Gravess commentary
could be withheld until participants have expressed their own views.
Tomlinson (2003c: 451), with in-service courses in mind, advocates a
systematic approach, in which participants are taken through the following

profiling a class

analysing a set of materials

evaluating the materials

subtracting sections of the materials

reducing sections of the materials

replacing sections of the materials

expanding sections of the materials

modifying sections of the materials

adding sections of materials.

He claims that having been through this process a couple of times, participants
can usually apply the approach quickly and without too much conscious thought.
The next step, ideally, would be that participants have an opportunity to apply the
approach to the materials they normally use, thereby creating a bridge between
the course and teachers own contexts.
What is missing from Tomlinsons framework, however, is any reference to the
principles that would guide adaptation. Graves (2000) suggests that participants
think of a class and an activity in a textbook with which they are familiar and
respond to one of a number of questions: for example, How would you adapt it to
make it more challenging/more personal/to integrate the four skills? Challenge,
or differentiation by level, and personalization were just two of the principles
discussed in Chapter 3. Awareness-raising which highlights these and other
principles is desirable.

2.5 Supplementation

Lesson-planning logically involves consideration of supplementation as well as

adaptation (Acklam, 1994). For inexperienced teachers, who are unfamiliar with
the range of resources available, sourcing suitable materials can be a problem.
Morley (1993) describes a book fair, in which trainees are given an evaluation
questionnaire and choose in pairs/threes a book to review (coursebook, skills
book or language practice book) from those on display. Reports are typed up and
comments and suggestions invited; final versions of the reports are circulated at
the end of the course. The activity thus provides experience of both evaluation
and collaboration as well as reviews of materials with which participants may be
unfamiliar. Where easy access to the internet is available, both inexperienced and
more experienced teachers can be asked to review online websites as sources of
texts, worksheets or games, say.

2.6 Materials writing

In a course primarily designed to equip participants to develop materials,
experience of writing has to be the central component, as Tomlinson (2003c)
argues: the skills involved cannot be gained from instruction; they can only be
developed gradually, as a result of quality, hands-on experience (p.452).
Graves (2000, chapter 10) suggests a small-scale materials development task
based on text input (four short, authentic housing advertisements are offered as an
example). Subsequent reflection on their approach to the task serves to raise
participants awareness of what they consider to be important their beliefs, in
effect. Fifteen design considerations suggested by course participants in response
to this task are reproduced.
Writing need not be the starting-point, of course. For Tomlinson (2003c), the
demonstration of innovative materials can stimulate curiosity, provide the
participants with potentially engaging experiences as learners and provide
concrete illustrations of novel procedures for the participants to reflect on and
discuss (p.449). Such demonstrations are structured in a specific way, by asking
participants to switch from the role of learner (experiencing the lesson) to teacher
(group analysis of the stages of the lesson, and then the objectives and principles
underlying each stage) and then, still in groups, to profile a group of learners for
whom the lesson might be intended and the potential effectiveness of the
materials used for these learners. During a final plenary discussion in which the
groups give their evaluations, the teacher educator might mention any intentions
or principles that had gone unnoticed. There might be several such
demonstrations, depending on the length of the course.
Participants are also likely to benefit from reading accounts of the working
principles and procedures of other writers. Research on expertise has identified
qualitative differences between language learning tasks designed by teachers with
different levels of specialist experience. Writing about such tasks, Samuda (2005:
232) concludes:

By focusing on the working practices of expert and non-expert designers, this

body of work highlights a number of issues of potential relevance not only to
professionals engaged in task design, but also to teachers working with tasks,
teacher educators preparing teachers to work with tasks and researchers
studying task performance.

Graves (2000, chapter 10) offers insights, in the form of materials and the teacher-
writers reflections on these, into why materials have been developed in the way
they have. Further useful sources for a much wider range of writing purposes
include the collections edited by Byrd (1995a), Hidalgo et al. (1995), Alexander
(2007), Harwood (2010a) and Tomlinson and Masuhara (2010), and papers in
Tomlinson (1998a, 2003a and 2011a).
Richards (1998a) suggests an interesting alternative which parallels an activity
discussed above under Adaptation: to give course participants a set of goals and
an input text taken from published materials (again, we might also want to supply
a teaching context/learner profile) and have them develop exploitation materials
based on the text. These are then compared with the decisions taken by the
professional writer. The participants products will not necessarily be inferior.
The issue of individual versus small-group writing is considered by Kennedy
and Pinter (2007), who describe an MA module in the United Kingdom in which
15 international students, in self-selected groups, designed a syllabus, teaching
materials and a teachers guide for use in their own contexts. Although factors
such as time-management and interpersonal relationships affected the smooth
functioning of some groups, including one containing students of the same
nationality, the comments of one student at least suggest that this was a more
beneficial experience than writing alone: It was important having others look at
your materials. You cant see all the weaknesses for yourself easily (Susie,
interview) (p.212), and I would never have thought I could write materials. As a
teacher I taught the materials. Now I can see that this is something every teacher
can do, and in a way already does, because we do change our materials intuitively
as we teach (Susie, reflection) (p.213). The authors note, not all the comments
were so upbeat (ibid.), but saw broader value in the group work in relation to the
theoretical aims of the course: Some teachers became aware of their own lack of
understanding of principles in course design (p.212) and would then make a self-
directed effort to research these further.

3. Threads

3.1 Introduction
Tomlinson (2003c) argues that to be effective, experience in writing needs to be
organized in a particular way and meet certain criteria. It needs to:

respect the participants as individuals and the knowledge, awareness and

skills that they bring with them
be staged and sequenced so that awareness and skills gained are
immediately made use of to facilitate the gaining of further awareness and
encourage experimentation and risk taking while providing safety and
be monitored sensitively and supportively by tutors who have earned
credibility as materials developers themselves
allow for sharing of products so that all participants gain from the pooled
provide opportunities for reflection and modification

be stimulating and enjoyable for the participants. (Based on Tomlinson,

2003c: 452, emphases added)
Alongside such important considerations as fun and sensitive monitoring and
support by appropriately experienced tutors, there is reference here to the kinds of
thread identified in the introduction to this chapter: the importance of drawing on
participants existing awareness, knowledge and skills; the need for
experimentation; opportunities for sharing and reflection; and progressive
capacity building.

3.2 Elicitation of beliefs, attitudes, awareness, knowledge, skills

We can perhaps assume that a course in materials evaluation and design will lead
to gradual gains in participants awareness, knowledge and skill and that their
beliefs and attitudes will be influenced as a result of this process. The problem
with this assumption is that unless we make an effort to discover what
participants starting points are we have no way of knowing how or even whether
they have changed.
One of the most obvious ways of getting course participants to articulate their
beliefs is a questionnaire. Wright (1987) contains a short questionnaire on
teachers beliefs about materials (first part of Task 40 on pp.767) which is
suitable for teachers with some experience.
An alternative is to present participants with a list of statements with which
they agree or disagree. However, a variation on this which is potentially more
engaging and valuable is statement modification (Woodward, 1992; Tomlinson,
2003c). Participants are first asked to agree or disagree individually with a set of
categorized statements, rewriting any with which they disagree in a form that
expresses their own beliefs. Group discussion is followed by plenary discussion,
the purpose not being to reach agreement but to explore the issues . . . . An
example of a statement under Texts would be Low-level learners should only
be given short texts to read and listen to (Tomlinson, 2003c: 450). Finally,
participants are asked to write individual responses to each statement. Woodward
(1992: 15960) provides a full-length example (relating to dictionary use) of
basically the same activity. She comments: Reacting to other peoples statements
by changing them in detail, in part or completely, according to your own
opinions, makes you feel powerful. A statement, once modified, can be modified
again. Opinions seem to be less rigid once you have crossed out or rephrased
words on a page (p.160). The plenary stage of this activity allows the teacher
educator not only to get a sense of individual attitudes and beliefs but also to
contribute his/her own ideas to the discussion, if this seems desirable. This would
therefore be a very suitable activity for the first session of a course. Tomlinson
(2003c) suggests that participants look at their statements again at the end of the
course and consider whether their views have changed. Reflective journals (see
Section 3.5) can also yield insights, for participants and tutors, into changes in
awareness or attitude and what has prompted these.
For beginner teachers, an understanding of, for example, how experienced
teachers use a textbook and what they feel about this might be both enlightening
and interesting. One possibility would be to play a recording of a teacher talking
about textbooks or invite a teacher to attend a training session and answer
trainees questions. Tanner and Green (1998) suggest that trainees carry out their
own interviews of two teachers about the coursebooks they use.
Beginner teachers are also likely to benefit from demonstrations of how lesson
plans are transformed in the course of a lesson. This can be demonstrated by
comparison of lessons plans and videorecorded lessons or lesson transcripts.
Recordings of teachers explaining the reasons for the changes would be a
valuable complement.

3.3 Experimentation and research

Practically focused courses should lead to products: materials (redesigned or

original) and evaluation checklists, perhaps. Logically, these should be trialled,
ideally in participants own contexts. On international Masters courses this may
only be possible at the dissertation stage, when willing colleagues in participants
own countries may be persuaded to use the materials and give feedback.
Checklists can, of course, be initially trialled on peers.
Systematically organized experimentation and evaluation of this kind, though
not without logistical difficulties, serves broader purposes than simply
discovering how well a product works in that it leads to learning both through the
process and about the process. This is clearly the intention underlying tasks in
Wright (1987) which involve observation of materials in use (Tasks, 62, 68, 69)
and tasks which involve obtaining learner feedback on materials (Tasks 65, 66,
69). McGrath (2006) outlines a procedure in which teachers first experience the
research process as participants by supplying and categorizing their own images
(metaphors and similes) for coursebooks, then collect and analyse the same kind
of data from their students, and compare the two sets of data. One of the
experienced teachers who went through this process commented that it was the
first time she had really listened to her students voices.
Research was a key thread running through the Leeds University BA in
Educational Studies (TESOL) programme conducted over a nine-year period
(19992008) for Diploma holders in Oman (Al-Sinani, Al-Senaidi and Etherton,
2009). The approach evolved over time, as these examples of tasks illustrate:

Early cohorts were asked to design a communicative task to develop

students listening and speaking skills, discuss the theoretical background
and criteria for determining effectiveness; later cohorts to teach and evaluate
the task, analyse pupils performance and propose changes.
For the Stories in Language Learning module, participants in early cohorts
were given the task of adapting or design their own Big Book story (for
use with young children); those in later cohorts were asked to evaluate the
effectiveness of different approaches to the use of Big Books (e.g. story-
telling, shared reading, use of powerpoint, or acting out stories).
Al-Sinani et al.s report is noteworthy for its self-critical tone: the recognition that
the approach to assessment of earlier cohorts was unduly constrained by
traditional views. Over time, there was a shift in concrete terms from what might
be characterized as proposal + rationale (which may be all that is feasible in off-
site courses limited by time and logistics) to experimentation/trialling, evaluation
and reflection:

the programme could have started building students knowledge of and skills in
teacher research from the very first assignment, by encouraging teachers to
investigate their own learners and their own classrooms. This could have been
done through, for example, asking them to carry out case study research with
one or more students . . . through simple observation and interview. It could
have been done through guided and supported action research, with students
implementing a change in their classroom to further explore ideas learnt in the
module, and investigating the effect of that change through analysis of
observation, documentary and even conference evidence. (Al-Sinani et al.,
2009: 103)

As the tutors involved in the Leeds-Oman project realized, classroom-based tasks

on in situ courses afford rich opportunities for learning about research, about
ones learners, and about ones own capacities.

3.4 Sharing
Discussion tasks and practical tasks provide opportunities for participants to share
experiences and ideas. On a more formal level, participants may be asked to make
individual or group presentations of their research or products. Gebhard (1993)
describes a materials/media fair in which course participants organize and invite
guests to an event at which their project materials are displayed (materials may
include videos, computer activities and games as well as print materials). Sooner
or later, the guests focus on a popular display, the food table (p.57).
The notion of sharing might also involve dissemination beyond the course. On
the University of Luton MA in L2 Materials Development described by
Tomlinson (2003c) participants were expected to present at both internal and
external conferences, support being offered through tutorials and a mini-course in
Making Oral Presentations. Participants might also be asked to prepare a
submission to a journal (see, for example, Woodward, 1992: 834). For first-time
writers, publication in journals such as English Teaching Professional, Modern
English Teaching, the RELC Journal and English Teaching Forum is a reasonable
objective, and if participants have already read articles from sources such as these
during the course they will have some insight into what is required. In some
contexts, presentation at a local conference followed by publication in the
Proceedings might seem a more achievable first step.

3.5 Reflection

Reflection, as Tomlinson (2003c: 4534) emphasizes, should be a key feature of

courses, with participants being encouraged to reflect on their views, theories and
materials during all phases . . ., outside the course and after the course. At the
beginning of a course, for example, they are asked to think about and to
articulate their beliefs about language learning and the role that materials should
play in it; they reflect when they are evaluating, adapting or producing
materials, and at the end of the course when they are evaluating their own and
other participants materials. Although Tomlinson is here thinking primarily of
courses focusing on materials development, his insistence on the importance of
reflection has general relevance.
On the assumption that writing encourages deeper reflection than is possible
during a class discussion, many teacher educators ask participants to keep
journals/diaries/learning logs in which they reflect on course inputs and
experiences. On part-time courses or pre-service courses with a practicum
component, reflection on the use of materials can also be prompted by recording
of lessons and observation, including peer observation (Wright, 1987; Richards &
Lockhart, 1994). Careful scaffolding and monitoring is needed, however, to
ensure that journals are reflective rather than simply descriptive (see, for example,
Jarvis, 1992; Richards & Ho, 1998). Where facilities permit, shared web logs
(blogs) are an alternative to the individual journal. Kiss (2007) reports on the use
of an online blog during a two-week residential in-service course for teachers in
the Philippines. As the following extract from the end of the first week illustrates,
teachers had been faced with challenges to both their current practices and what
they had learned previously, but were very positive about the experience:

Looking back yesterdays activity, I could say that I was given the chance to
grow up (being one of the youngest of the group). I have to act maturely so we
can accomplished the task given. Growing up does not necessarily mean we
have to leave all the things we learned in college but it entails utilizing what we
learned and join them together to make a better material; a material not for
ourselves but for our students. Growing up would also mean sharpening our
skills for us just to be independent and critical in dealing with material
designing. (Kriscentti Exzur Barcelona, 17 January 2007)

Continuing contact and post-course reflection can be stimulated using a shared


3.6 Progression

One of the course design principles listed by Tomlinson (2003c) is that of staging
and sequencing (see Section 3.1). This principle is demonstrated in the following
graded sequence of tasks from a course/block focusing on writing materials:
1 participants decide on the voice they wish to adopt in addressing learners
(e.g. formal, authoritative or informal, chatty)
2 writing instructions
3 writing questions
4 giving explanations
5 giving examples
6 selecting texts
7 writing texts
8 exploiting texts
9 using illustrations
10 layout and design
11 writing teachers notes
12 writing units of materials. (Tomlinson, 2003c: 451)

The same principle underlies the progression of tasks illustrated in Table 10.1,
which shows how criticality can be systematically developed throughout a course:
As will be evident from the above tasks, criticality here refers to the ability to
recognize both strengths and weaknesses. It should be easier for most participants
to be critical of the ideas and products of their peers (point 1), for example, than
to be critical of academic authority (point 3), as represented by published authors,
especially if, as may sometimes happen, one of those authors is their own tutor.
However, there need to be ground rules: for instance, that positive comments
should precede suggestions for improvement.
To be critical in the ways referred to above especially in relation to points 3
and 4 requires confidence, but that confidence develops as a result of awareness
that there are criteria on which we can base judgements, and also through
encouragement. The same point applies to creativity. Everyone is capable of
creativity in varying degrees (Maley, 2003: 184). This can easily be
demonstrated, even when a course does not lead to original materials writing. For
some teachers, it is a revelation to realize that things do not have to be like this,
that there are other possibilities.
4. Summary and conclusion
In the previous chapter we looked at the implications for a variety of groups of
gaps between teachers practices on the one hand and theory relating to the
desirable behaviours of teachers on the other. The general conclusion was that
there needs to be a rapprochement of the groups involved. Publishers and
textbook writers, Ministries and institutional managers all need to be aware of the
tools and other forms of support that teachers need if they are to fulfil the roles
assigned to them, and endeavour to make their task easier; and teachers
themselves need to know what is expected of them, and respond willingly to what
they may see as new responsibilities. Teacher education has a vital part to play in
shaping teachers attitudes and developing their abilities, and a carefully
designed, contextually sensitive and practice-based approach to teacher education
in materials evaluation and design, based on the suggestions in this chapter, could
make a real difference.

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This index lists authors who are quoted in the text and/or whose ideas are referred to.
Acklam, R. 23, 1434, 212, 214
Akbulut, Y. 1801
Alamri, A. 1067
Alexander, K. 1645
Allwright, D. 13, 79, 92
Al-Senaidi, F. 94, 21819
Al-Sinani, S. 94, 21819
Altan, M. 10, 68
Al-Yousef, H. 1089, 112, 151, 171, 180
Amrani, F. 32, 34, 35, 36
Angouri, J. 11
Appel, J. 66, 74
Arakaki, L. 167, 178, 181, 202
Arikan, A. 172
Arva, V. 142

Bahumaid, S. 26, 56
Balajee, D. 163
Banks-Joseph, S. 128, 147, 156
Bathmaker, A.-M. 143, 169, 187, 193
Bell, J. 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 168, 197
Block, D. 26, 75, 150
Bolitho, R. 1721, 44, 78, 934, 95, 96, 151
Botelho, M. 9, 116, 119, 120, 132
Bowen, J. 24, 61, 62, 71
Boys, O. 11
Breen, M. 90, 95, 205, 209
Brown, H. 212
Brumfit, C. 13, 22, 89, 90, 93, 95
Burns, A. 127, 144
Byrd, P. 5, 512, 54, 556, 82, 96

akt, I. 110, 151

Canagarajah, A. 10
Candlin, C. 90, 95, 205, 209
Canniveng, C. 26, 100
Castro Prieto, P. 11618, 119
Caterina 1512
Celce-Murcia, M. 58
Chandran, S. 113, 121, 143
Chavez, E. 170, 178, 1812
Chowdhury, R. 1734
Cohen, D. 878
Copland, F. 127, 144
Crawford, J. 9, 85
Crookes, G. 167, 176, 178, 181, 202
Cunningsworth, A. x, 25, 54, 55, 63, 64, 78, 207, 208
Curabba, B. 1645

Dam, L. 95, 205, 209

Daoud, A.-M. 58
Darian, S. 69
Dat, B. 378, 40, 423, 160, 196, 197
Davis, P. 189
Davison, C. 168, 184
Donovan, P. 34, 35
Duarte, S. 152
Dudley-Evans, T. x, 234, 25, 26
Dunford, N. 127, 12930

Edwards, T. 1, 14
Ellis, R. 12, 52, 78, 183, 210
Erdoan, S. 179
Escobar, L. 152
Etherton, S. 94, 21819
Ewer, J. 11
Farooqui, S. 171, 172, 177
Flack, R. 160
Fortune, A. 160
Fredriksson, C. 26, 105, 114, 120, 125, 147

Gabrielsen, G. 95, 205, 209

Garinger, D. 55, 56, 71
Garside, B. 189
Garton, S. 127, 144
Gebhard, 16, 17, 219
Gilmore, A. 9, 11, 158
Gilmore, D. 128, 147, 156
Gomes de Matos, F. 55
Gonzlez Moncada, A. 26, 99, 171
Gower, R. 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 168, 197
Grant, N. 22, 55
Graves, K. xi, 10, 11, 50, 52, 534, 60, 64, 65, 68, 70, 76, 77, 1445, 160, 17980, 210, 212,
213, 214, 215
Gray, J. 12, 132, 138, 13940
Green, C. 207, 211, 217
Greenall, S. 32, 412
Guefrachi, H. 205, 209
Hadfield, C. 17
Hadfield, J. 17
Hann, M. 12, 37, 40, 42, 196, 197
Harmer, J. 6, 8, 15, 38, 59, 64, 70, 76, 82, 84, 89, 208, 211
Harwood, N. 10, 11
Hassan, F. 1712, 1756
Hayashi, C. 143, 175, 177
Hayes, D. 113, 167, 169, 1745
Helgesen, M. 70
Henrichsen, L. 25
Holliday, A. 9
Horsley, M. 857
Howard, J. 756
Howatt, A. 4
Hsiao, J. 128, 177
Hu, Z. 149, 1546
Huang, S.-E. 1223
Hughes, J. 74, 21213
Hutchinson, T. xii, 5, 11, 12, 14, 15, 25, 61, 133, 150, 179
Hutchinson, 76, 90

Inal, B. 105, 113

Islam, C. 456, 61, 70, 71

Jazadi, I. 4, 11, 113, 121, 128, 1423

Johansson, T. 1467, 1567, 175, 190
Johnson, K. 88, 123
Jolly, D. 44, 78, 934, 95, 96, 151

Kanchana, P. 163
Katz, A. 148
Kayapinar, U. 10910
Kennedy, J. 215
Kesen, A. 1545
Kidd, A. 1645
Kim, E. 123, 1645
Kiss, T. 220
Krajka, J. 15960

Lackman, K. 78
Lamie, J. 74
Law, W.-H. 105, 11516, 124, 125, 175, 178, 181
Lee, R. 143, 169, 187, 193
Li, D. 179
Liu, N. 123, 173
Littlejohn, A. xii, 12, 53, 210
Litz, D. 11012, 150
Lockhart, C. 220
Loewenberg-Ball, D. 878
Lund, R. 10, 45
McDonough, J. 11, 54, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69
McElroy, H. 1, 22, 25, 55
McGrath, I. xii, 3, 6, 7, 8, 15, 47, 49, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58, 62, 64, 65, 66, 69, 71, 72, 73, 75,
76, 78, 80, 149, 1524, 164, 183, 190, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 218, 2212
Madsen, H. 24, 61, 62, 71
Mahoney, D. 128, 138, 140, 1412, 147
Major, J. 756
Maley, A. xii, xiii, xiv, 64, 65, 68, 76, 169, 222
Mares, C. 29, 38, 39, 456, 61, 70, 71
Martinez, M. 26, 100
Masuhara, H. xi, xii, 9, 11, 12, 378, 40, 423, 44, 501, 56, 64, 65, 74, 78, 100, 196, 197, 209
Matsumara, T. 176, 183
Matthews, A. 54
Meddings, L. 11, 14
Medgyes, P. 142
Mendez Garcia, M. 11618, 119
Morley, J. 214
Mukundan, J. 12

Nava, A. 123
Nguyen, T. 1578
Nimehchisalem, V. 12
Nishigaki, C. 158
Nunan, D. ix, 76

Olsson, R. 26, 105, 114, 120, 125, 147

ONeill, R. 88

Peacock, M. 1589
Pennycook, A. 10
Pereira, S. 160
Perkins, D. 123
Pinter, A. 215
Pogelschek, B. 31, 34, 37, 40, 41
Prodromou, L. 49, 60, 62, 689
Prowse, P. 33, 36, 38, 40

Ramasamy, A. 163
Ramrez Salas, M. 150, 182
Rashad, R. 163
Ravelonanahary, M. 128, 138, 142, 152, 170, 172, 180
Richards, J. ix, x, 5, 6, 13, 16, 1920, 25, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 46, 56, 60, 612, 64, 91,
128, 1335, 138, 1402, 147, 198, 208, 210, 215, 220
Rinvolucri, M. 8, 9, 189
Roberts, J. 56, 58
Rodgers, T. x
Rossner, R. 12, 89, 90, 93, 95
Rubdy, R. 378, 40, 423, 196, 197

St John, M. x, 234, 25, 26

St Louis, R. 160
Salusbury, M. 8
Sampson, N. 125, 129, 1358, 139, 140, 168, 174, 183
Samuda, V. xi, 24, 72, 94, 215
Saraceni, C. 70, 71, 162
Schn, D. 77
Scrivener, J. 21011
Selamat, N. 1712, 1756
Sengupta, S. 1656
Senior, R. 59, 89
Sercu, L. 11618, 119
Shaffie, A. 91
Shaw, C. 11, 54, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69
Shawer, S. 128, 147, 156
Sheldon, L. 8, 12, 22, 187, 195, 203
Skierso, A. 55
Smith, A.-M. 123
Smotrova, T. 173
Soler-Canela, O. 123
Spratt, M. 160
Stillwell, C. 1645
Stone, P. 1645
Swan, M. 13

Tanner, R. 207, 211, 217

Thornbury, S. 11, 14, 845
Tice, J. 62, 70
Tomlinson, B. xi, xii, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 26, 378, 40, 423, 44, 56, 64, 65, 69, 73, 74, 78, 100,
121, 125, 149, 188, 196, 197, 213, 214, 216, 217, 21920, 221
Torres, E. xii, 5, 11, 12, 14, 15, 25, 61, 133, 150, 179
Trias, M. 160
Troudi, S. 205, 209
Tsobanoglou, S. 1312, 133, 138, 1456, 176
Tsui, A. 94, 169, 192
Twine, G. 192

Underhill, A. 14
Ur, P. 6, 1989

Wala, D. S. 30, 32, 37, 401, 44, 45

Wallace, M. 77
Wang, L.-Y. 11415, 1212, 123, 125, 1723
Waters, A. 76, 90
Woodward, T. 69, 76, 202, 206, 217, 219
Wraight, A. 74
Wright, T. 79, 211, 217, 218, 220
Wyle, C. 1645

Xu, I. 1201
Yakhontova, T. 152
Yalden, J. 51
Yan, C. 1301, 133, 138, 139, 142, 144, 148, 14950, 171, 189
Yi, Y. 12, 37, 40, 42, 196, 197
Yuen, K. 87

Zacharias, N. 138, 140, 141

Zheng, X.-M. 168, 184
Zoughby, K. 10, 45

The Index lists key terms and concepts referred to in the text.

content 1012
context 534
of coursebook packages 68
vs evaluation 53, 8990
market 312, 43
materials 53
needs 501, 79, 8990, 11011, 1602
of language 1011, 63, 112
of tasks 118
autonomy see learner; teacher

checklists 558, 11415, 1223

best known 55
design 558
and teacher attitudes 11415, 120, 1223, 125 see also teacher education
value of 55, 120, 123, 182
advantages of 58, 14
alternatives to 13
analysis see analysis
criticisms of 814
global 910
learner attitudes to see learner responses to materials
metaphors for 1535
national 10
retrospective evaluation studies see evaluation
reviews of 378, 197
selection 548
(theory), 11325
(practice) see also materials, evaluation
and teacher education see teacher education
teaching without a coursebook 1517
and technological development 68
writers see materials, writers
see also culture
cultural context 412, 44, 67, 156
and coursebooks 6, 910, 10910, 11619, 1223, 132, 13841, 152, 173, 1978
and materials 1578, 162

Dogme 14

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) x, 11, 234

evaluation see coursebook, selection; materials, evaluation
Humanising English Teaching 1612

activity preferences, topic preferences, interests 1602
autonomy 1720, 21, 147, 166, 179
-centred teaching 79, 1624, 184, 189
factors and materials evaluation see analysis, needs
-generated materials 3, 21, 7980, 92, 1636
involvement in materials evaluation 79
metaphors for coursebooks 1535
and new roles 201
responses to materials 147, 14966

managers, institutional xii

implications for 1903, 199200, 222
as addition 636, 1338, 140
as change 636, 73, 13343
definitions of 23, 59
foci of 60, 623, 138
forms of 24, 5960, 63, 70, 72, 13942 (teachers practice)
importance of 601
principles 6671, 131, 213
proactive and reactive 602, 133
purposes of 5960, 62
see also supplementation; teacher; teacher education
analysis see coursebook
authentic 23, 43, 734
as-content 45
and culture see culture
design 50 see also teacher, roles (writing original materials)
of checklists see checklists
evaluation 50, 52
checklists see checklists
and design 50
and lesson-planning 589
phases/stages/steps in 52, 545, 789, 125, 183, 194
studies, retrospective 10613
systematic, importance of 105, 126, 191
as-language 45
learner-generated see learner
as object of study and research xxi
piloting 346, 778
selection processes 548 (theory) see also coursebook, selection (practice)
value of ixx
verbal and non-verbal 4
implications for 1959
perspectives 3847
Ministry of Education 402
implications for 1934

implications for 1959
perspectives of 302, 338, 3947

applied linguistics 1011, 12
and coursebooks 198
and curriculum adaptation 128
foci of 199202
lack of x, 70, 126
into learners attitudes to materials see learner responses to materials
by materials writers 323
need for x, xii, xiv, 199203
by publishers 312, 336, 44
and syllabuses 193
into teachers evaluation criteria 11623
into teachers use of materials 12948
into teachers views on coursebooks see materials, evaluation, studies
vs adaptation 72
definitions 71
forms of 24, 724, 1428
reasons for 712, 12932

autonomy 15, 1720, 23, 87, 95, 1278, 147, 184, 190, 1923, 207
lack of 12, 13, 812, 1747, 191
creativity 234, 456
criticality see teacher education
experience 90, 124, 1349, 183
implications for 18890
individual factors 16784 see also teacher, experience; teacher, NESTs and NNESTs
NESTs and NNESTs 11819, 1357, 13941, 173
practices see coursebook selection (practice); research into teachers use of materials
as reflective practitioner 778
relationship with materials and learners 1720
roles of 214, 812, 978
course planning 502
evaluation see materials
lesson planning 52, 589, 1434
materials adaptation 456
materials selection 213, 24, 52, 548
supplementation 24, 71, 73, 90
writing original materials 756, 926
status of xiii
and teaching context Chapter 8
and technology 23, 14, 74, 123, 146, 196 see also teacher education
teacher education,
implications for 1945, 2023
and materials 26, 82, 100, 202
in materials evaluation and design 81101, 1945, 20319
aims and objectives of 83
content of 83101
and coursebook analysis 210
and coursebook selection 2079
and coursebooks 837, 8992, 2079
and criticality 2212
in-service 902, 1001, 20319
and materials adaptation 21114
and materials evaluation 183, 2079
and materials writing 878, 926, 21415, 216
method 20319
need for 24, 26, 912, 100, 124, 183, 194, 222
pre-service 8990, 96100, 20319
provision 26
and supplementation 92, 214
and teaching context 99100
and technology 17, 82, 85, 969
teacher educator,
implications for 20319
perspectives of 81101
technology see coursebook; teacher; teacher education
textbook see coursebook
Title 3
Series 2
Copyright 4
Dedication 5
Acknowledgements 7
Preface 8
1 Introduction: Materials, the roles of teachers and learners,
teacher education
1. Introduction 15
2. Materials 15
3. Teachers and learners 31
4. Teacher education in materials evaluation and design 38
PART ONE External perspectives: Theory 41
2 Publisher and coursebook writer perspectives 42
1. Introduction 42
2. The development process 43
3. Pre-publication research 43
4. Constraints and compromises 49
5. Teachers and learners as end users 56
3 The professional literature 60
1. Introduction 60
2. The responsibility for course design 61
3. Materials selection 63
4. Adaptation 70
4.8 Summary and conclusion 81
5. Supplementation 82
6. Developing original materials 85
7. Teachers as reflective practitioners 87
8. The role of learners in materials evaluation and design 89
9. Summary 91
4 Teacher educator perspectives 92
1. Introduction 92
2. Aims and content of a materials evaluation and design component 94
3. Materials writing revisited 103
4. Materials and instructional technology 106
5. Training context and teaching context 109
6. Summary 110
PART TWO Teacher and learner perspectives: Practice 112
5 How teachers evaluate coursebooks 113
1. Introduction 113
2. Retrospective evaluation studies 114
3. Selecting coursebooks: processes and criteria 120
4. Teachers own criteria 125
5. In-use and post-use evaluation 132
6. Summary and conclusions 132
6 How teachers adapt and supplement coursebooks 134
1. Introduction 134
2. Whether teachers adapt and supplement their coursebooks 135
3. Why teachers adapt and supplement 136
4. Adaptation: when, what, how 139
5. Supplementation 149
6. Summary and conclusions 154
7 Learner perspectives 155
1. Introduction 155
2. Learners responses to coursebooks and authentic materials 156
3. Learners responses to working with learner-generated materials 168
4. Summary and conclusions 171
8 Contextual influences and individual factors 173
1. Introduction 173
2. Why do teachers not use coursebooks in the way theyre expected
3. Why do teachers not use systematic approaches to textbook
selection and subsequent evaluation?
4. Why do teachers not involve learners in materials evaluation and
5. Summary and conclusions 190
PART THREE Implications 191
9 Implications for teachers, managers, ministries, publishers and
coursebook writers, and research
1. Introduction 192
2. Implications for teachers 193
3. Implications for institutional managers 195
4. Implications for ministries of education 197
5. Implications for publishers and textbook writers 200
6. Implications for research 203
10 Implications for teacher educators: A practice-based proposal 208
1. Introduction 208
2. Blocks 210
3. Threads 218
4. Summary and conclusion 225
References 226
Author Index 240
Subject Index 246